Lady ‘Eaters Go Down Fighting
UCI shone with pride as our ladies ended their season in the semifinals of the Big West tournament at Cal State Fullerton against UC Riverside.
On Thursday, UCI’s women’s soccer team was eliminated from the Big West Tournament, but they did not go down without a fight, ending the game with the score at 2-1. Playing UC Riverside, ranked No. 3, our lady Anteaters, ranked No. 2, lost in overtime, fighting hard until the end. Senior Mady Solow scored the only point for UCI in the second half of the game, but our ’Eaters were unable to close the game.
This season has been an outstanding feat for the ladies, with an overall record of 11-7-0. With Coach Scott Juniper leading the team, he successfully brought them to the Big West Tournament for the sixth time in seven years with the help of Assistant Coaches Peter Boyer and Colette Swensen. Coming into this season, Juniper felt confident about the team and had a positive attitude going into every game.
“We were excited about this team,” Juniper said. “We knew we had a shot at winning the Big West and that we were good enough to make the NCAA tournament. We approach every game to win it but win it in a way that reflects well on everyone here at UCI.”
Of the 32 players on the team, they had a total of six seniors. Of those seniors, Natalia Ledezma and Jordan Bruce were named Anteater of the Week and Big West Player of the Week, respectively. According to Juniper, the seniors played vital roles in helping lead the team to the Big West Tournament and they will definitely be missed.
Even though our ladies were unable to make it to the finals of the Big West tournament, it has only made them determined to continue to work hard and improve their game. “We need to close games out,” say Juniper. “We have dominated a couple of games and not put those games away which is something that hurt us.”
In terms of their strategy for next season, Juniper stated they plan to continue to stick to their principles, which includes character, passion, team, competitiveness, belief and pride. And to remember that they are here to represent a truly incredible institution.
This season has rounded up great memories. One that Juniper recalls is their outstanding victory against Brigham Young University (BYU), ranked No. 6. With about 30 seconds left on the clock, Natalia Ledezma scored the winning goal that would be the only goal of the game.
“The win against BYU was a complete performance and the biggest win in program history,” says Juniper.
They rounded out a cumulative conference record of 25-4-4 in the last four years. In four years they have only had four conference losses, an impressive statistic. BYU is the highest ranked team that UCI has played and successfully beaten in program history.
Not only did our lady ’Eaters bring us to the semifinals of the Big West Tournament, but they showed their Anteater pride and proved that they are there to fight until the very end. Although it is the end to another superb season, we look forward to next year and what awaits for our ladies.