Despite jumping ahead with an early goal from redshirt senior forward Noel Baham, the UC Irvine women’s soccer team (4-3-3) could not outlast the Santa Clara Broncos (4-5-1), faltering in a 2-1 match Thursday night at Stephens Stadium. The decision marks the first back-to-back loss UCI has suffered in the year.
Baham cracked the match open a little over six minutes into the inaugural period when she received a through ball from senior midfielder Kiana Palacios and slid it right past the Bronco’s keeper to give the ‘Eaters an early lead. The first goal of the match awarded Baham her third successful conversion on the year and added a second tally in assists for Palacios.
Reminiscent of UCI’s previous match to Pepperdine, however, Santa Clara took their time and would go on to ruin the ‘Eaters’ early, high-energy offense with clean strikes and looks of their own.
By the end of the first, the Broncos would go on to outshoot UCI, 8-4.
After things got a little chippy and a pair of yellow cards were assessed to players from both teams late in the first half, the Broncos capitalized in a brief lull in the match as sophomore defender Machaela George headed one past UCI sophomore keeper Maddie Newsom to equalize the match.
Santa Clara continued to hold possession for the majority of the second half, 8-3 shots, and after 84 minutes of action, the Broncos took full advantage of a free kick that materialized into another header that would go on to seal the game.
Following the seventh minute goal, UCI did not have many other opportunities as the Broncos would go on to hold the advantage in shots, 16-7 (9-4 on goal).
Defensively, Newsom collected six saves as the backline cleared one for a team total of seven. Broncos junior keeper Melissa Lowder snagged three shots on the opposition’s side of the net.
Seven yellow cards and 27 fouls were called in all, three and 13 for UCI while four and 14 for Santa Clara, respectively.
UCI brought the game to the Broncos from the opening minute, converting a goal, earning five corner kicks and finding two early shots on target in the first 13:33 minutes of play. The Broncos, however, stayed resilient and weathered through a period where they committed five consecutive fouls and were given a yellow card to tie up the match by the 40th minute.
The highly aggressive play from both ends persisted in the second half — 14 fouls and three yellow cards in all — but the Broncos would make the most of their chances, firing up three shots in quick succession 25 minutes into the period. Newsom came between two of them, but in the 83rd minute, UCI committed an untimely foul that would award the Broncos a free kick and subsequently the game-winning header.
After hitting a two-game skid, the ‘Eaters will look to get back on the winning column when they close out preseason play with a matchup against San Francisco (3-4-2) Sunday Sept. 24 before opening conference play Friday Sept. 29 against Cal Poly for a 7 p.m. start in San Luis Obispo.