By: Nduati Macharia & Stefan Curtis Jones
Photography by UC Irvine Athletics
The UC Irvine women’s soccer team (3-10-1, 2-1-1) went to double overtime and tied, 0-0, against Cal State Fullerton Titans (10-2-2, 3-0-1) at the Anteater Stadium this past Friday, Oct. 18. This marks the first time this season that Fullerton has been held scoreless.
The game kicked off with Fullerton’s offense being active and aggressive with their trademark this season. They averaged just over two goals per game.
The Anteaters allowed only three shot attempts, ultimately leaving the offensively dominant team with no goals to close the first half. Irvine fired five shots at their opponent’s goal post, spearheaded by the fourth-year midfielder Jessica Miclat who took two shots in the first half. Despite the five shot attempts from UCI and three from Fullerton, both teams remained scoreless during the first half.
Starting the second half scoreless inspired both teams to apply more physicality, with instances where both second-year midfielder Scarlett Camberos of UCI and third-year defender Sam Blanchard of Fullerton earned yellow cards.
Fullerton was led by fourth-year forward Maddie Bennett who launched two shots. They fired three of their five total shots within the first 20 minutes of the second half. However, UCI was able to weather the Titans’ attack with their own heightened aggression.
“We knew they were going to come in very aggressive, so we came in matching it. That was our mentality, to come in and match their aggressiveness,” said Camberos.
UCI committed 23 fouls, 18 of those from the second half and two overtime periods. They challenged the Titans’ defense with 10 shots versus nine for Fullerton.
UCI’s fourth-year goalkeeper Maddie Newsom faced all nine of Fullerton’s shots in regular time and made an impressive save late in the game.
“IIt’s always, next one, next one and next one. We can’t hinder on the last save or their last attempt because the game goes by so fast that we have to continue to focus on the next one,” said Newsom when asked about the nine shots she faced.
The tie against the top team in the Big West Conference could provide a positive turnaround for the remainder of the season. With a strong start in conference play, the Anteaters are on track to better their performance against future opponents.
“Fullerton is one of the best competitors in the Big West, they’re number one right,” said Cameros. “Not a lot of teams have been able to beat them and we’re kind of proud [we were able to tie]. That helps us look forward to more games and kind of shines light that we can continue doing good against anybody, not just Fullerton.”
The resilience that UCI displayed during Friday night’s match can be attributed to what Newsom refers to as “blue mind.”
“That is our team motto and that is one of the principles that we have as a team,” Newsom stated. “It’s to continue to stay calm and collective, even through high-pressure moments.”
UC Irvine is in fourth place with UC Santa Barbara on their heels by one point. The Titans are in fourth place in the conference with Cal State Northridge behind them in second.
The Anteaters’ women’s soccer team will look to build upon this momentum in their next game when they play against Cal State Northridge on Oct. 24.