Berrini Performs Some Magic

Scott Roeder | Staff Photographer

Scott Roeder | Staff Photographer
Junior Kate Berrini launches the first of her three goals. This 30-yard free kick goal tied the match at 1-1.

The UC Irvine women’s soccer team edged Weber State 3-2 in a thriller on Friday night at Anteater Stadium. They now improve to a 4-4 on the season, but more importantly, they ride on a three game win streak. Junior Kate Berrini provided the heroics, recording a hat-trick to lead the Anteaters to victory.
The ‘Eaters halted the Weber State offense early on, but failed to capitalize on certain mistakes by the Wildcats. In the first half, sophomore standout Tanya Taylor created a prime scoring chance by dribbling to near post only to see her shot stopped by Weber State’s goalkeeper Rebecca Ritchie on the far side. The Anteaters attempted only six shots in the first half.
If the score at 0-0 during halftime was indicative of anything, it had to be the lack of execution on the Anteater’s offense.
“[In] the first half, we were just trying to force passes into spaces. We just weren’t creative enough, just too predictable,” said Scott Juniper, a second-year head coach for the Anteaters.
The second half was a different story.
In the 59th minute, Weber State’s Alyssa Foutz scored in the box off a corner kick to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
Junior midfielder Kate Berrini then responded by blasting a 30-yard free kick in the 74th minute, her first goal of the season, to tie the match at 1-1.
Just three minutes later Weber State’s Alyssa Foutz placed the ball in the right corner of the net to place the Wildcats ahead 2-1 at the 77th minute.
“We let them get in the game and we gave ourselves an uphill battle,” said Juniper.
For the next 15 minutes, the Anteaters improvised their offensive strategy after only scoring off of a free kick. With flawless execution, Berrini again scored six yards out in front of the net on a pass from Tanya Taylor and freshman Carly Crowder along the near post at the 83rd minute to tie the game 2-2.
“We always look to play off the bat and connect with some good passes, but sometimes we’ve got to play a little longer and stretch the team out,” said Juniper.
He continued, “As soon as we did that, it forced them to drop in a little bit to create some more space for us to play in front of them.”
The Anteaters did just that. Four minutes later, Berrini nailed her hat-trick goal on a pass from the right side of the box from Taylor at the 87th minute to seal a 3-2 Anteater victory. It has been 12 years since another UCI player has accomplished this feat in 1996 when Nicole Bucciarelli scored three goals against New Mexico.
Although Berrini’s three goals are all worth considerable admiration, her first goal from the free kick stood out most to her.
“[The free kick] got the team started during the night. I had a lot of trouble finding the net tonight. That was my first goal of the season and then after I got two more, I just wanted to keep a good fluid motion going and [to] keep scoring goals,” said Berrini.
Still, head coach Juniper believes there is room for improvement despite the team’s three-game winning streak.
“Tonight, I saw 20 minutes [of solid play] at the end of the game to win. But we’ve got to put 90 minutes together to beat some of the teams that we need to beat in the Big West conference,” Juniper said.
The Anteaters are going to have to do just that if they want to hang with powerhouse Big West teams such as UC Santa Barbara, who boasts a 6-2 record. However, with the momentum of a three-game streak, the Anteaters are ready and confident as they shoot to improve from their 11-7-2 record from the 2007 season.
“Hopefully someday we can start to look to put in the quality of soccer that we put in the first 20 minutes and near the end of the game,” Juniper said.
The Anteaters take on San Fransico next Friday at home at 8 p.m.