The UCI Women’s Soccer team kicked off the season on a positive note with a 4-2 victory over Fairfield at Anteater Stadium, in a match which featured a stretch of goals in back-to-back-to-back minutes. Offensively, the ‘Eaters coalesced like a unit in midseason form and kept their foot to the gas pedal as two players were able to notch two goals apiece.
Sophomore Lili Andino opened up the scoring with a goal in the 38th minute as a result of a gorgeous set piece. From a free kick just outside the box, junior Alex Karlowitsch fed a streaking Noel Baham who crossed the ball to the waiting foot of Andino.
“We’re very comfortable,” said Andino, “That’s what we’ve been working on, there are obviously things we need to sharpen up, but the set piece definitely helped us out. I think offensively we killed it tonight.”
Andino quickly followed with her second act in the 39th minute, finishing assists from Baham and junior Kiana Palacios, and has already surpassed her goal total from last season.
Fairfield would not bow out without a fight, however, as the Stags’ Brenna Brown rifled a shot past goalie Maddie Newsom in the 40th minute to trim the lead to one before half time.
The field opened up in the second half for both teams, as Fairfield threatened immediately with deep runs into UCI territory but the Anteater back line and goalkeeper held fast.
Goalie was a big question mark heading into the season as none of the current Anteaters had ever logged a minute for the UCI squad in the net.
Freshmen Maddie Newsom stepped up and was able to make 4 saves against 2 goals allowed in her collegiate debut.
“I think she was good tonight,” remarked Scott Juniper, entering his tenth season as head coach. “She’s got a long way to go before she reaches her potential. But she was strong, she managed the game very well, she showed a lot of maturity in that area. There are some things we’re going to improve, but we’ve been recruiting her a long time and I was looking forward to her arrival. She has two other goalkeepers that are pushing her, but she did great.”
Midway through the second half, UCI was able to draw a foul in the goalie box after knocking on the door for several minutes and three consecutive corner kicks. Kiana Palacios, the lone Anteater to appear on the preseason all-conference team, did not disappoint as she calmly rolled the penalty kick past the keeper to extend the cushion back to two goals in the 66th minute.
Palacios was not finished, as she converted a veritable goal-of-the-year candidate in the 72nd minute. As she dribbled toward the end line she lofted the ball with enough carry and speed over the outstretched fingertips of the Stags’ goalie to net he second of the match and the ‘Eaters’ fourth.
“That was a phenomenal goal,” said Juniper. “Can’t wait to see the video. I’m gonna tell her it was a cross and she got lucky.”
Fairfield was able to tack on one more score from midfielder Brown in the 83rd minute to end the game at 4-2.
Eighteen Anteaters were able to log minutes in the match, as seven players came off the bench to contribute, most of all Andino and her two goals. The ‘Eaters look to capitalize on that depth at key positions throughout the year and as they host Saint Mary’s on Sunday.
“We’ve got really good depth in those positions, and Lili is not happy sitting on the bench, I love that. What she needs to do, when she gets her opportunity, is show us that she shouldn’t sit on the bench again. When you got a team that are competing on that level it’s great.”