UC Irvine women’s soccer (3-1-3) stretched their unbeaten streak to six last weekend courtesy of a 1-1 draw against LMU (3-1-2) Friday followed by a 1-0 decision over Oregon (4-2-0) Saturday—the latter of which eclipsed former head coach Marine Cano’s 113 wins and places head coach Scott Juniper at the forefront of the program’s all-time victory board with 114 wins.
The ‘Eaters began the weekend with a cross-county road trip to Sullivan Stadium in Los Angeles, CA Friday where things got a little bumpy as the Lions wasted no time in unsettling their opponents, converting an early goal in the 11th minute that quickly snapped UCI’s four-game shutout.
If the ‘Eaters were stunned by the hasty goal, they showed little signs of it, doubling the Lions’ shot attempts, 8-4, in the first half while going on to take 11 more opportunities than their opposition would for the game, 22-11.
After firing up 12 shots, UCI’s high-energy offense materialized in the 60th minute. Picking away a ball from LMU, redshirt senior Noel Baham found senior forward Kiana Palacios, who went on to lead all players with six shots, for the equalizer.
With the successful conversion, Palacios now has four goals on the season under her belt as Baham adds her second assist to the books.
While the ‘Eaters owned the majority of the match offensively, LMU tapped their target with high accuracy, challenging sophomore keeper Maddie Newsom and the backline from within the box six times on the night.
With the score remaining tied at the end of regulation, the match went into two overtime periods where each team put up four shots apiece across the two 10-minute extra time rounds before the buzzer sounded and the score was finalized at 1-1.
Eager to get passed their closely contested draw with LMU, the ‘Eaters returned home Sunday to face Oregon in a match that was added after the Ducks had cancelled their meeting with Texas A&M in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. With respects to the circumstances of the matchup, the UC Irvine Student-Athlete Advisory board held a Hurricane Relief drive at Anteater Stadium in hopes of gathering supplies and taking in donations from fans to aid in the efforts.
Continuing to strike with their high-octane, quick-paced attack, UCI willed their expectations into fruition with a game-winning header from senior Grayson Galbraith late in the first half.
The ‘Eaters stomped out with 10 shots to the Duck’s 3 to start the match (14-9 for the night), landing multiple touches on target.
Galbraith, who returned as a starter and played her first full 90-minute match after sitting out a couple on injury, was the first to challenge the Ducks at the net with a header in the eighth minute.
Baham and freshman midfielder Claire Grouwinkel followed up with a barrage of shots to hound the keeper, but it would be Galbraith who would return on her second attempt to puncture the net.
On a corner kick in the 37th minute, redshirt defender Reema Bzeih sent the ball high towards the back of the post where Galbraith connected with it off her head and past Oregon’s keeper for the first and sole goal of the game.
For the bookkeepers, the sequence awarded Galbraith with her first career game-winner and, more importantly, went on to secure coach Juniper as the Winningest coach in the program’s history.
The Ducks broke out of the second half with six shots; three that had threatened to knot the score up.
One of those looks came in the 70th minute when an Oregon forward broke away from a few UCI defenders and sent one rolling into Newsom’s gloves. As the match ticked towards its final 30 seconds, a Hail Mary attempt also found its way toward Newsom, but the ball was also checked and cleared.
With the victory Friday, the ‘Eaters collected their 19th overall win—fourth over the Ducks—against Pac-12 adversaries.
UCI will be back on the road when they face the San Diego Toreros Friday at 5:00pm but will return to Anteater Stadium once more on Sunday to face Pepperdine at 2:00pm.