Fresh off of back-to-back upsets and eight straight games without a loss, the UC Irvine women’s soccer team was in high spirits heading into a home game against Pac-10 opponent University of Washington (6-2) on Friday night, Sept. 25.
The Huskies, coming off four wins in their last five games, struck first in the 22nd minute from a UCI own goal. Anteater goalie Danielle de Seriere blocked a shot from Husky forward Alex Webber, but the ensuing deflection back into the field of play deflected off a UCI defender back into the goal area.
For the next 30 minutes, UCI and Washington battled back and forth with no goals on either side. However, the talented lowerclassmen of UCI broke through twice in the 55th and 57th minutes, which tied Washington and then took the lead. Sophomore Lexi Kopf had a big day, first collecting an assist by crossing the ball into the box where freshman, Mar Rodriguez, finished it off.
While the Huskies were still on their heels, sophomore, Nikki Forrest and freshman, Devon Delarosa worked together assisting Kopf who put the ‘Eaters up 2-1.
“They’re a tough opponent and have been consistently ranked in the top 25,” Head Coach Scott Juniper said. “I thought we were a little disorganized to concede the first goal. But after that, we got back into the game well, and the team did great. That’s arguably the best team we played this year and I thought we dominated for large portions of the game.”
In the 81st minute, the Anteaters had a close call, with the Huskies threatening inside the box. The crowd of more than 550 people had barely let out a collective sigh of relief when Washington senior Veronica Perez received a long pass down the middle of the field and went in for the goal in the 87th minute.
“We try to defend by attacking teams and I think we got caught in between the two,” Juniper said. “Some of us were on our heels and some of us were pushing forward. It just opened a few gaps, and you know, good teams will take advantage of that.”
In the overtime period, Washington senior, Nikki Murray, drilled an impressive 35 foot shot from the right side, just sneaking into the top left corner over de Seriere’s outstretched arms. As the Huskies mobbed the field, de Seriere stayed on the ground with her arms over her head, obviously distraught. Several other UCI players were in tears at the sudden turn of events.
“Once we took the lead we just should have closed it out – but unfortunately we didn’t,” Juniper said. “It took a 35 yard shot in the top corner to win the game. We’re disappointed, of course, but I think about another day we might have picked up the win.”
UCI had to try and regroup for an away game against San Diego State (6-3-2) on Sunday, the 27th.
The Anteaters forwards continued their strong play, as junior forward Tanya Taylor found Delarosa about 12 yards out on the left side in the 22nd minute.
Unfortunately, Gretel Amman scored off a rebound for SDSU at the 66th minute mark, and the Lady Anteaters were forced to enter overtime for the second straight game.
At 92:40 in overtime, Jessica Gordon of SDSU found the back of the net, putting in the rebound off of a Cat Walker header.
The 2-1 loss recapped a tough week for UCI, leaving them with a record of 7-3-1 on the season. The game was also the last non-conference game for the Lady Anteaters on the season, a tough schedule marked with three Pac-10 teams.
Taylor leads the team with four goals and four assists, already topping her previous season high in points with 13. Rodriguez has an impressive 5 goals already as a freshmen, while fellow freshmen Dana Sanderlin has four gaols and an assist. Goalie de Seriere has five shutouts in 11 games.
Next up are two big conference home games against UC Santa Barbara on Oct 2 and Cal Poly on Oct 4.