A week after the women’s soccer team notched their first Big West title in school history with a 1-0 victory at UC Riverside, the Lady Anteaters took the field on Halloween afternoon with pink ribbons in their hair. Paying tribute to multiple causes, the team celebrated senior day, advocated breast cancer awareness as part of the athletic department’s Think Pink Week and honored the No. 12 team in the nation’s undefeated Big West season.
While it was crucial to a team that is never satisfied and continues to pile up accolades to lock down their first undefeated league season in school history, for fans, initially the 3-2 victory over Cal State Fullerton could almost be perceived as a side note. Allowing free admittance to fans wearing pink and celebrating the careers of Gilly Acedo, Sarah Busby, Danielle de Seriere, Nikki Forrest, Alyssa Humphrey, Raylean Robles and Tanya Taylor was of ultimate importance.
But after entering halftime down 2-1, the Anteaters grudgingly felt their first undefeated season in team history slipping away to a 6-12 Titans team. Fullerton took advantage of a sloppy pass in Irvine’s defensive zone 14 minutes into the contest, putting the Titans up 1-0. Motivated, sophomore Devon Delarosa and the Anteaters responded within a minute, with a goal in the 15th minute. A foul deep in the Anteaters’ defense led to a Titan penalty kick in the 27th minute. As Christina Murillo of Fullerton shot to the right side, de Seriere guessed wrong diving to the left, allowing a second goal.
“Get it together!” de Seriere shouted at her teammates after booting the ball back to midfield for the next kickoff. The defense held off the Titans as a physical defensive battle ensued for the rest of the half.
Irvine showed why they’re Big West Champions, coming up clutch in the second half. Junior Coco Goodson scored in the 57th minute, knotting the score at two. Three minutes later, Taylor added her 10th goal of the season, putting the ’Eaters ahead 3-2. Finding themselves in the second half, the defense shut out the Titans in the last 45 minutes.
Marking just the fourth occasion all season that the team had given up two goals, UCI managed to escape with a win and finish an impeccable 8-0 in conference.
Emerging victorious and looking ahead to the Big West Tournament, a day of celebration won’t get in the way of the historic but grounded squad.
“The accomplishments we’ve had this season are remarkable, but I don’t see our journey ending anytime soon,” senior captain Alyssa Humphrey said. “We have worked hard to get to where we are. Some of our goals haven’t been reached yet and that’s where our focus is.”
The Anteaters now look ahead to the Nov. 4 Big West Semifinal game against Pacific.
“Starting on Thursday, how we did in the season doesn’t matter,” Humphrey said. “We’re taking it one game at a time.”