No. 7 ‘Eaters hosted the No. 19 CSUN Matadors on Saturday March 10 at the Anteater Aquatics Complex.
UCI, who has struggled amidst stiff competition early in the season, looked to set the tone for a six game homestead through the rest of March. The Matadors arrived on a drizzling and ominous Saturday morning to face the determined ‘Eaters in front of a small but dedicated crowd. Both teams came into the game looking for a crucial Big West win.
UCI took the lead early, and never looked back. Senior Allie Loomis started the scoring for UCI just over a minute into the game on a shot that deflected off the arm of a CSUN defender. Junior Jenna Phreaner started in goal for the ‘Eaters, making her presence known early, stopping the first shot the matadors could muster. Phreaner’s stop gave UCI a strong possession where freshman attacker Megan Falcon found the back of the net. A short time after Phreaner’s stop and Falcon’s goal, the Matador’s center grinded out a goal of their own, cutting the Eater’s lead to 2-1. Freshman Tara Prentice kept the offense rolling however, with 3:23 left in the 1st where she got her first steal of an impressive four on the game, and converted it to a goal, giving UCI the 3-1 lead. Julie Swieca would then score on a powerplay after UCI forced another turnover. Phreaner stopped another shot from the Matadors, but let one shot slip past her on a penalty shot by the Matadors to end the quarter with UCI up 5-2.
It took UCI a minute to again put the pieces together in the second, when senior center Natalie Seidemann converted on a pass from freshman Calysa Toledo. Seidemann stayed hot, finding the net again with a backhand shot down low to give the ‘Eaters a 7-2 lead.
UCI’s defense held up, giving the Matadors no chance. Phreaner, faced with another penalty shot from CSUN, made a big stop to halting the Matador’s from attempts to gain momentum. Falcon again put ball to twine to end the half with six seconds left to play.
As the rain continued, so did the ‘Eater’s scoring, putting up another goal just over a minute into the 3rd, when freshman utility Isabel Rack converted on another steal by Prentice. UCI looking strong and feeling confident began to rotate through players, also switching goalies after Phreaner’s phenomenal first half. Though UCI’s players changed, their scoring ways did not. Toledo added to her assist on the night, with a power play goal that put the ‘Eater into the double digits, 10-2. Though their offense is apparent from the score, the ‘Eater’s defense has immeasurable value in their win. “Our offense is fueled from our defense,” Seidemann stated, “it gives us opportunities for counters and to get set up in our front court.” To close out the third, the Matador’s managed a goal, with only five seconds left, bringing the score to 11-3 going into the fourth.
On the defensive side of the ball, freshman goalie Alyssa Schulte took over in net for Megan Jones in the fourth. During her tenure in net, Schulte would make three saves, keeping the Matadors off the board, the only goalie to do so this game, though, Phreaner did get double the time in net and was playing a CSUN that had not yet had their spirits crushed by the UCI Defense. Before the game concluded, Swieca scored her second goal and Freshman attacker Avalon Gook scored her first with 3:23 left to play.
The final score 13-3, reflected the dominance the ‘Eaters displayed on both sides of the ball. In route to victory, 10 different Anteaters scored, and three of them tallied two goals. The ‘Eaters improved to 1-1 in conference play, and 2-4 at home. On Thursday March 15, UCI will host Harvard at the Anteater Aquatics Complex.