Firing On All Cylinders
UC Irvine 1, Oregon St. 0
The UC Irvine women’s soccer team handed the 17th ranked Oregon State Beavers its first loss of the season in Friday night’s 2nd match of the Anteater Invitational. UCI improved to 7-1-2 as Coach Scott Juniper’s Lady Anteaters dominated on the defensive side. Limiting OSU to two corner kicks, UCI recorded their fourth straight shutout of the season.
Coach Juniper attributed the team’s success to their defensive discipline.
“We worked really well out there,” Juniper said. “Our experience [on the field] was important in helping us win. We played at a high level tonight which really impressed me against a good Oregon State team.”
Both teams fought hard for the entire 90 minutes as they played a physical brand of soccer. Oregon State and UC Irvine were each penalized 11 times, including two yellow cards given to the Beavers in the 84th and 86th minute of the game.
During the first 10 minutes of the match, Irvine was trying to attack the Oregon State defense down the sideline with wing play from senior midfielder Alyssa Humphrey and sophomore forward Alexis Rafael, as well as freshman Zuri Walker and junior Judy Christopher who commanded the center of the field extremely well.
Oregon State controlled most of the possessions during the early part of the first half, taking the first four shots. The Lady Beavers were led by senior midfielder Courtney Wetzel and sophomore forward Chelsea Buckland, who combined for five total shots in the first half.
UC Irvine took their first attempt on goal during the 26th minute, when sophomore defender Sarah Devine took a shot that sailed high over the net.
Although Oregon State took six corner kicks in the first half, the Beavers could not capitalize due to Danielle de Seriere’s defensive performance. The senior goalkeeper tallied two saves in the first half and added four more in the second half.
The Irvine women came out with an aggressive attitude in the second half, taking two quick shots by Rafael and Zoya Farzaneh. Junior forwards Lexi Kopf and Amanda Hardeman provided the Lady Anteaters with a remarkable energy during the game, challenging the OSU defenders down the middle of the field.
After a sequence of shots by Oregon State in the second half of the game, sophomore midfielder and forward Mar Rodriguez took her second shot of the game and scored her third goal of the season to give the Anteaters the advantage and eventual game-winning strike.
OSU had a couple chances to equalize the game after Rodriguez’s goal but the UCI defense was too much in the end. De Seriere came up with a great diving save during the 83rd minute to ward off the Beavers’ last attempt to score.
“There was a great rhythm at the end of the game,” Juniper said. “We played extremely hard tonight. We knew we had to come out strong against such a tough opponent. In the beginning, I would have graded our team as a C student, but we improved to having all As.”
UC Irvine 4, Nevada 2
UCI closed out the Anteater Invitational by facing the Nevada Wolfpack.
After beating the Beavers in a 1-0 defensive struggle, the Anteaters put their offense on display by out-scoring the Wolfpack 4-2.
Sophomore forward Alexis Rafael proved to be the catalyst for the Anteaters’ offense late in the first half. She netted two goals in the 35th and the 41st minute.
With all the momentum favoring the Lady Anteaters, the Wolfpack silenced the crowd early on in the second half, as Nevada’s Danielle Green scored in the 48th minute.
Eight minutes later, the Wolfpack applied more pressure on the ’Eaters.
Nevada’s Jill Erickson scored the equalizer in the 56th minute.
However, the Lady Anteaters never panicked, as senior forward Tanya Taylor broke the tie by scoring in the 73rd minute. Lexi Kopf placed the final nail in the coffin, as she scored the fourth goal in the game, making it 4-2.
The Anteaters have displayed their defensive prowess, allowing two goals in the last five games. The Lady Anteaters begin conference play with two home games, the first coming against Pacific on Oct. 1. They then face-off against UC Davis on Oct. 3.
With the win against Nevada, the Anteaters won the Anteater Invitational. Mar Rodriguez was named MVP.