A lone Santa Clara goal and a tipped ‘Eater shot were just enough for the Broncos to leave a sour note on the UC Irvine women’s soccer team’s (8-3-0) otherwise solid preseason tour Thursday night.
Following a 1-0 loss to Utah last Sunday, UCI had hoped to conquer their second to last non-conference match against Santa Clara (3-4-3), a victory that would solidify their preseason without a single losing streak. Instead, the Broncos turned the ‘Eaters back and handed them their second consecutive 1-0 loss.
Bronco senior forward Jenna Roering delivered the devastating blow in the 68th minute when she knocked in a rolling pass—that was crossed into the box—past UCI freshman keeper Maddie Newsom and into the right side of the net.
Playing catch up, the ‘Eaters would get their best chance of the night in the final minute when junior midfielder Alex Karlowitsch popped up a last ditch effort from 40 yards out that landed right on target. Bronco freshman keeper Courtney Ogren had other thoughts.
With the ball sailing high, Ogren reached up and tipped it up and over the post. The game was over on the subsequent corner kick, which was successfully defended by a blockade of Broncos from within the box and cleared by Orgren.
The Broncos outplayed UCI offensively, taking nine shots to the ‘Eaters five while landing three on target. Karlowitsch’s final minute fling was the sole shot on the mark for UCI.
Junior forward Kiana Palacios, who averages 3.6 shots a night, managed just one attempt in the first half. No one garnered more than a single attempt for the ‘Eaters for in the entirety of the game.
For Santa Clara, Roering emerged as a crucial catalyst who collected two of the Broncos three on goal, one of which was recovered by Newsom in the opening minutes while the latter would go on to become the game winner.
The opening half began with each team jostling for momentum by trading shot for shot. Shortly after Palacios took one that went high off in the sixth minute, Roering answered with an attempt that darted straight at Newsom, who collected it for save number one on the night.
When redshirt senior defender Kelsey Texeira found an opening and snuck up a shot that went wide, Santa Clara’s senior midfielder Jordan Jesolva also took one that trailed off course.
By the second half, however, the Broncos cranked up the pressure and forced the ‘Eaters to play some tight defense early on by cracking three consecutive shots at the net.
While the first attempt was an errant header that went wide off the outside of the right post, the second came eight minutes later and required Newsom to make a diving save for her second recovery on the night.
Despite being able to clear a number of Santa Clara’s shots, the Broncos kept charging forward and in the 68th minute, UCI finally caved on a Roering one-timer that was hit in stride off a gliding cross from freshman DB Pridham.
With some desperation, the ‘Eaters clambered for a last ditch opportunity in the closing minutes of the match. The final look, UCI’s best on the night, came to Karlowitsch with 83 seconds left, but Ogren would not be denied her first career shutout.
A tipped pass and well-defended corner kick would officially draw the game to a close as the ‘Eaters picked up their first losing streak on the season while Santa Clara earned their third victory on the year.
While the loss may be upsetting, the ‘Eaters have shown improvement from their last meeting with the Broncos when they had fallen 4-0 in front of a home crowd. During Thursday’s matchup, UCI had buckled down on defense, traded shots with the Broncos in the first half, and kept the contest even for the majority of the evening.
UCI will return home Sunday where they will attempt to shake off their recent losses and face off against Portland at 2pm. The ‘Eaters are looking for their ninth victory on the season, a win that will surely benefit the team ahead of their conference opener next Friday against Long Beach.