Wednesday, December 1, 2021
HomeSportsSoccerUC Irvine Women’s Soccer Upset No. 2 UCLA to Advance in the...

UC Irvine Women’s Soccer Upset No. 2 UCLA to Advance in the NCAA Tournament, 1-0

- advertisement -

The UC Irvine Women’s Soccer team (16-5-0, 8-2-0) defeated the UCLA Bruins (16-1-3, 8-0-3), 1-0, at Anteater Stadium on Friday, Nov. 12. This staggering upset snaps a 26-game undefeated streak for the Bruins and marks UCI’s first victory in the NCAA tournament since 2010.

From the outset of the game, the Anteaters looked to physically overwhelm the Bruins. In the fourth minute, UCLA pushed the ball past the UCI defenders. Led by Bruin junior defender Brianne Riley, a mad dash commenced to the goal. Rather than running down the ball, ‘Eater sophomore midfielder Chloe Ragon simply dragged Riley down by her jersey. A yellow card followed, as did an ineffectual free kick for UCLA.

This physicality soon paid dividends on offense as well. In the 14th minute, with the ball deep in enemy territory, UCI redshirt sophomore midfield/forward Destinee Manzo lofted a high arcing ball, launching it across the field just in front of the Bruin goal. Irvine redshirt freshman forward Alyssa Moore rose up among the ocean of powder blue defenders to head in an Irvine goal.

From that point onward, the Anteater offense began to crack under the tough defensive pressure from the Bruin midfield. It was evident that UCI would have to match their opponents with an equally impenetrable defense if they wanted a chance at victory. This left Irvine’s defensive players to fight tooth and nail for the win. 

That is not an unfamiliar scenario for the ‘Eater defense; however, they have risen to the challenge throughout their late season run. The unit, led by veteran UCI junior defender Maddy Chavez and explosive freshman defender Kiera Smeenge, came into the game with a four game shutout streak and over 400 minutes without allowing a single goal.

“Shutouts win championships,” Chavez said.

Though the tenacious performances from Chavez and Smeenge were instrumental in the win, the shining star of the night was Irvine redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Glo Hinojosa. She consistently challenged the Bruins with a mixture of graceful skill and unrelenting aggression.

Despite a UCLA onslaught of 10 corner kicks and 19 shots on-goal, Hinojosa never wavered. At the end of the match, she racked up a total of seven saves. 

As both teams fired up, it seemed like the ‘Eaters were simply outmatched. The Bruins cut through the Irvine defense with shifty dribbles and sharp passes. Despite this, the Anteaters’ determination and resilience willed them out of every UCLA attack. After the 90 minute period, the scoreboard glowed, 1-0, with Moore’s lone goal.

“They’re excited to get up there and prove that they can compete,” UCI head coach Scott Juniper said before the game.

That willingness to prove themselves and vigorously compete for 90 minutes without letting up earned the Anteaters one of the largest victories in the history of the program. 

The Anteaters will have the opportunity to extend their seven-game winning streak against the Wisconsin Badgers on Friday, Nov. 19, with location and time details still to come.

Benjamin Hendricks is a Sports Intern for the fall 2021 quarter. He can be reached at bahendr1@uci.edu.