The UC Irvine Women’s Soccer team (9-5-0, 4-2-0) was defeated by the UC Davis Aggies (9-7-0, 4-4-0), 1-2, at the Anteater Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 17. With the end of the regular season only two weeks away, the Anteaters terminated a four-game winning streak.
The ‘Eaters came out of the gates with relentless energy, pushing the ball up the field with speed and skill. At only eight minutes, redshirt sophomore forward Destinee Manzo and junior midfielder Scarlett Camberos broke past the Aggie defense. They both seemed poised for a clean shot on goal but were pushed off course by the defenders.
The Aggies offense initially seemed flat in comparison, getting clogged by Irvine’s aggressive defense and losing foot races to the ball. This slow start was quickly overcome in the 15th minute when Davis used Irvine’s own aggression to get the right backers out of position. The Aggies soon set up a two-on-one inside the goalie box. Sophomore midfielder Leslie Fregoso then sent a gorgeous pass to sophomore midfielder Risa Yamada, who buried it into the back of the net.
Davis continued making tricky maneuvers throughout the game. Although Irvine played with a raging fire in their belly, the Aggie defense was always there to smother it. Davis consistently set up methodical possessions, which were often broken up by the Anteaters, but netted quality shots on goal.
“The effort was outstanding. I lost count of how many shots we had on frame,” UCI women’s soccer head coach Scott Juniper said.
The Anteaters had 20 shots on the game. Players like Manzo, Camberos and sophomore forward Alyssa Moore consistently flew past their defenders just to find themselves cut off from their teammates and forced to take low percentage shots.
Perhaps the biggest reason these shot opportunities seemed so poor was the outstanding play of Davis senior goalkeeper Nicki Rucki. Rucki swallowed up each ball that came in her vicinity, racking up eight saves in the game.
Even a slate of four substitutions for UCI in the 66th minute was not enough to break this pattern. The ‘Eaters’ energy simply couldn’t prevent Yamada from returning the favor to Fregoso, assisting her in the 75th minute to make it a 2-0 ball game.
In the 86th minute, what looked like another promising position for Davis’ tenacious defense turned into the ‘Eaters best opportunity of the night. Head referee Ken Taylor called a foul on Davis’ defense, giving Camberos an opportunity to reduce the lead to one. Camberos squared up to her shot and sent it into the corner of the net, scoring Irvine’s first and only goal of the match.
“The universe just didn’t align for us tonight. Maybe that’s just the second kick in the butt we needed to get us through the rest of the season and the postseason,” Juniper said.
The Anteaters still have an opportunity to get back on track, taking on the CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners at the Main Soccer Field on Thursday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m.
Benjamin Hendricks is a Sports Intern for the fall 2021 quarter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.