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Irvine Hits A Speed Bump

After a 4-0 start, the women’s soccer team has faltered somewhat in the month of September, going 1-2-1 since. In comparison, the team only lost three games in 2010. Scott Juniper’s squad must rebound this week against Portland at home on Thursday and on the road at the University of San Diego on Sunday. At 5-2-1, the Anteaters are just behind their 5-1-2 record at the eight game mark of the 2010 season, but the ’Eaters won’t sweat it.

Hawaii 1, UCI 2

On Sept. 2, the Anteaters defeated Hawaii at home 2-1 with sophomore forward Natalia Ledezma and senior forward Lexi Kopf scoring a goal apiece. Kopf’s goal was her third of the season. Senior Judy Christopher, freshman Cami Privett and Ledezma all picked up an assist.

UCI 1, Santa Clara 1

Irvine traveled up to Palo Alto for the Stanford-Nike Invitational. Playing against No. 17 Santa Clara in the weekend’s first contest, the Anteaters started slowly and entered half-time with a 1-0 deficit. Ledezma came out in the 52nd minute and evened the score at one before the two teams eventually played to a draw. Ledezma’s goal was her fifth in just six games at UCI since transferring from UCLA.

UCI 0, Stanford 2

On Sept. 11, No. 11 UCI suffered its first loss of the season to an admirable opponent, No. 2 Stanford, 2-0. Irvine held the Cardinal scoreless for 70 minutes until the Pac-12 powerhouse ripped off two goals in two minutes. The Anteaters were outshot 19-6, with Stanford getting seven shots on goal to Irvine’s one. With the North Carolina Tarheels’ 4-3 overtime loss to Texas A&M on Sept. 11, Stanford vaulted to No. 1 in the nation after defeating UCI.

“Coach Juniper told us he was proud of us,” senior CoCo Goodson said after the loss. “We have watched the tape and learned a lot about our team and what we need to improve on.”

Saint Mary’s 2, UCI 1

The Anteaters lost their second game of the season and second in as many games on Sept. 16 to Saint Mary’s. CoCo Goodson got Irvine off on the right foot, making a free kick in the sixth minute after senior forward Lexi Kopf drew a foul right outside the 18-yard box. It was Goodson’s first score of the season.

“It felt amazing to finally score a goal,” said Goodson, the reigning Big West Defender of the year who scored five game-winning goals in 2010. “I just needed to keep the ball down and get my power on it.”

But in the 18th minute, Saint Mary’s countered with a goal of their own. Playing to a 1-1 tie until the 66th minute, the Anteaters  outshot the Gaels 18-4, with eight shots on goal to the visiting team’s two. Saint Mary’s then snuck another goal past freshman goalkeeper Jennifer Randazzo, putting the Gaels ahead. With 24 minutes to go, the Anteaters had a number of close calls with Goodson sailing a shot inches over the crossbar, but numerous shot attempts were off target or well-defended as the Gaels improved to 7-1-1.

“Tonight’s performance was tough,” Goodson said. “We outshot them, but in our sport sometimes the ball doesn’t fall your way. Saint Mary’s was a great team. We know we need to take this loss as a challenge and look forward to playing Portland [on] Thursday.”

Portland was 3-4-1 in their first eight games and also dropped a 2-0 contest to Stanford on Sept. 15. San Diego is 5-4 at press time. Neither game will be a walk in the park, but after losing two straight games to teams that were a combined 13-1-2, the Anteaters’ can take somewhat of a breather in closing out their non-conference schedule this week.