Senior Night Spoiled for Women’s Soccer Team by Hawai’i
UC Irvine (6-9-3, 2-4-1) hosted Hawaii (7-10-0, 2-5-0) in their final home game of the season. Fans celebrated the success of the seniors with a heartwarming ceremony to kick off the game.
The lady ‘Eaters were greeted with flowers and loud applause as several hundred fans came out to cheer on their seniors in hopes of continuing UCI’s winning streak.
The team’s senior night was spoiled when Hawaii made the lone goal of the game, topping the ‘Eaters 1-0. The game proved to be a well-defended contest that had the ‘Eaters on the short end of the stick. The loss ended the ‘Eaters opportunity for a postseason run after a long, hard-fought season.
The lone goal of the game came at the 35th minute; a controversial offsides no-call opened up senior Hayden Gibson, who quickly shot the goal past UCI’s goalkeeper Jenn Randazzo’s outstretched arms. The no-call had the fans frustrated, as UCI had a beautiful scoring opportunity called back on an offsides call in the 30th minute of the game.
It was a difficult way to end the season for the lady Anteaters, as they dominated the time of possession in the game and had many great opportunities to take complete control of the game. The ‘Eaters continued to pile attacks on the sophomore goalkeeper of Hawaii, but the physical and timely defense from the Warriors were able to clear out the ‘Eaters attacks.
UCI dominated the stat sheets throughout the board, as they produced more shots on goal than the Warriors and more opportunities with four additional corner kicks.
The ‘Eaters came out of halftime with an aggressive game plan that led to four quick scoring opportunities within a four minute span, but the persistent defense of the Warriors stopped each attack and kept the ‘Eaters silent.
The second half was a great battle between the two teams, as UCI pressured Hawaii’s defense throughout the period; luck was not on UCI’s side, as they saw four goals just sail over the top crossbar or get denied by the goalpost.
Laura McGrail — arguably the MVP of the season — may have been the most frustrated as she saw two scoring chances just sail over the post. McGrail described the evening as “unlucky.”
“I feel like we dominated the whole time. Soccer just ends like that sometimes, at the end of the game they just got lucky and we didn’t. It’s unfortunate,” said McGrail, expressing her frustration.
Along with McGrail’s opportunities, UCI’s red shirt freshman had another great breakaway opportunity down the sideline. She had one more defender to beat before taking a big hit by Hawaii defenseman, which resulted in a yellow card and free kick for UCI. The lady ‘Eaters almost capitalized on the free kick, but a diving save by Hawaii’s goalie was able to clear the attack yet again.
Perhaps the best scoring opportunity came late in the 86th minute of the game. Hawaii’s goalie misplayed the ball, which rolled in front of the net and had senior Bianca Frontino with one defender to beat in front of the net; she was unable to capitalize, a constant theme throughout the game.
Although it was a tough way to end the season, ‘Eater nation showed great support for the women’s soccer team and left the seniors with a meaningful impression as they finished their collegiate athletic career in emotional fashion.
“The ceremony was great. It’s good to be surrounded by the people you love and applauded by the fans.” McGrail said, weighing in on the opening ceremony.
Although the Anteaters saw their playoff hopes diminish with the home loss against Hawaii, the Anteaters collected themselves and finished their season on a strong note.
Traveling to UC Davis for their final game, the Anteaters shut out the Aggies 3-0. McGrail scored two goals in her final match, as an ‘Eater while Tatyana Gareet found her third career goal.