Sydney Carr was frustrated. As a matter of fact, the first-year forward had been for the past eight matches. After seeing potential inaugural career goals as an Anteater clink off the post or skid just wide of the target on a number of occasions, the Oregon native was growing impatient with an unnerving desire to score.
In this match thus far, the UC Irvine women’s soccer team’s final non-conference throw down against the San Francisco Dons, Carr had opened the match with a cross into the keepers box. The pass attempt nearly went into the nets on its own but much like all of her prior attempts, the shot remained close, failing to actually materialize. Triggered by the fallout of the attempt, she could not help but feel agitated again.
On the defensive now, waiting for the opposition to send the ball back into regulation on a corner kick, Carr stood over 50 yards away from her pursuit. Eyes darting for the ball, She remained determined.
And with that determination, she jumped ahead and came away with a ball for a clean dispossession that caught her defender by surprise.
A couple of USF defenders heaved their arms forward and back, fighting against the wind to catch her, but Carr began to break away now, going the distance, sprinting ahead, eager to chip it at the keeper, patient enough to get closer. Prior to the match she had told her assistant coaches that this match was going to be the one; she was not going to let haste steal it away from her.
Long rapid lunges—not unlike a short distance runner—took her past midfield, the 40-yard mark, the 30, the 20, but it was not until she got around the 10 that she decided to pull the trigger.
After 19 attempts, plenty of disappointed sighs, arms swings, and angry mutterings, it was only appropriate that Carr’s first collegiate goal would connect on a beautiful breakaway during the 20th minute of Sunday’s match in front of a capacity crowd of 1,064 fans—fifth largest outing in the program’s history—at Anteater Stadium to give UCI a 3-0 victory.
“I should have at least five goals in the season already but I was getting frustrated because I was getting so close and it just wasn’t’ happening for me,” Carr said. “I came out today with a better mind and said ‘here we go, this is the game, this has got to be it.’”
Carr also had a hand in the other two goals on the night, the first of which came less than a minute after her opening conversion.
In the 21st minute, senior forward Kiana Palacios dished one to Carr who streaked ahead a few paces on the left wing before crossing it to a wide-open Lili Andino for goal number two of the match. The junior midfielder’s goal was also her first on the year, seventh in her career.
Staving the Dons from scoring for the rest of the first half, UCI controlled possession for much of the second and put the finishing touch on the match in the 68th minute.
A bit similar to the second goal on the night, Carr created some space and chipped one over her defender and into the box where Palacios patiently came up on it and flicked it past the keeper.
As the finally cherry to top the match gave Palacios her fifth goal on the year, Carr’s goal and two assists earned her four points on the night and marked one of the best outings that the young forward has had for the blue and yellow.
“She looked like a proper college soccer player today,” head coach Scott Juniper said. “She is relaxed now…she is not snatchings…she’s not too anxious over the finish. Now that she’s got that one [goal] I think she’ll relax over the next one. I’ll be very surprised if that was her last goal.”
As a collective the ‘Eaters outshot the Dons, 17-10 (9-4 on goal). UCI sophomore keeper Maddie Newsom made four saves to secure the shutout as USF sophomore keeper Olivia Camera made five saves while her team picked up one clearance to finish with six.
The victory snaps a two-game skid for the ‘Eaters and will send them into Big West conference play on the winning column. UCI currently sits at third, behind Cal State Fullerton (7-2-2) and defending champions Long Beach State (6-3-1), with a 5-3-3 record.
The ‘Eaters have high hopes for the season as they will travel to San Luis Obispo to face the Cal Poly Mustangs Friday, Sept. 29th for a 7:00pm start.
“That was one of the toughest schedule we’ve had,” coach Juniper said of his non-conference slate. “We were disappointed with one of the ties and maybe one of the losses where we wish we would have done a lot better but we put ourselves in a good position and we’ve got it going heading into the conference now. First job is to finish in the top four to give ourselves a chance to win it and hopefully give ourselves a crack at the conference tournament.”
Having finally knocked through her first touch, Carr is eager to continue to assert herself as another deadly offensive force on the team.
“I look forward to scoring more,” Carr said. “Now that I got the last goal [out of the way] in this last game, I’m excited to score more and be more excited for every other goal.”