On Thursday, April 5th, the UCSD women’s soccer team took on SDSU at Warren Field in the first leg of the 10th Annual San Diego Cup. Having lost to SDSU only a few weeks ago, UCSD was determined to take revenge and beat their intercity rivals. As their first game back from spring break, the Tritons looked a little rusty in the beginning of the first half. The first ten minutes saw SDSU charging down the flanks and getting many dangerous crosses in the box. On one of the Aztecs’ many corners, a SDSU forward lunged toward a flying cross and sent the ball to the upper right corner of the goal, but goalkeeper Amy Schwartz was able to get her fingertips behind the ball and save the Tritons from an early goal deficit. Shaken from their slump, the Tritons pressed forward with more ferocity and determination and created numerous chances in front of the SDSU 18-yard-box. Around the middle of the first half, the Tritons cleared a ball to forward Miriam Bell, who collected the pass from half-line and slid a picture- perfect through ball to running forward Cynthia Ruiz. On the breakaway, Ruiz was unable to capitalize on the chance, sending the ball just wide of the left post. Tackle after tackle, cross after cross, both teams were locked in a stalemate as each struggled to dominate the game. The first half ended scoreless, largely due to solid defending on both sides of the field.
In the second half, UCSD came out with more energy and were eager to get the first goal. Quickly, they surged into their opponent’s half. On one play, Miriam Bell received a long through ball from midfield and made space for herself as she broke into a one-on-one dribble with the goalkeeper. She missed her chance, but the Tritons knew they were getting closer. A goal was coming. Not long after, UCSD penetrated through a tightly packed Aztec midfield and found Miriam Bell yet again, who was waiting in the middle of the 18-yard-box for a chance for redemption. Her shot was blocked by the SDSU keeper but the rebound fell at the feet of freshman Keiko “Keiks” Coleman, who hammered the ball past tangled legs into the back of the net. UCSD was up 1-0 and their scoring drought was over!
After the goal, the Tritons played a little sloppier and more timidly, as if trying only to keep the one goal lead. A foul in the midfield proved too costly, however, when SDSU crossed a long, high ball into a crowded box for their forward to flick toward the upper right corner. This time, the ball sailed past Amy Schwartz’s hands. With the game tied, UCSD knew that a win in the first leg of the tournament was crucial and they pushed up to create more chances and take more shots on a mostly untested Aztec goalkeeper. The Tritons struggled to retake control of the game and found themselves caught on a turnover when an Aztec player stole the ball on the left flank of midfield and crossed an absolutely stunning ball into the box. Losing her defender, an SDSU forward powerfully headed the ball into the goal for a seemingly easy finish. Suddenly, UCSD found themselves down 1-2, an undesirable score given that away goals have a crucial impact on the ultimate results of the tournament. Even with some strong attacks and good chances, the Tritons were unable to tie the game and SDSU took the victory. The Tritons can make a comeback against the Aztecs next Thursday, April 12, at SDSU for the second leg of the tournament.