Riding on the heels of a crucial victory against UC Irvine, UC San Diego’s Women’s Club Soccer team delivered a solid 3-0 win against UC Riverside at home on Sunday, October 9th.
From the start, the Tritons dominated the game by playing to their skillset and setting the pace early on with a high pressure strategy. Winning the loose balls in the center, San Diego’s midfielders continually found pockets of space to play through balls to the outside backs and forwards, who in turn flew down the flanks and across Riverside’s high defensive line.
Senior midfielder and captain Alaina Bujtor began the offense that led to the first goal. During the 7th minute she took the ball off of a one-two and dribbled down the left flank. Speeding past her defender, Bujtor passed a pinpointed ground ball across the goal for fellow senior midfielder Shannon McAndrews to coolly tap in.
San Diego continued to lay on the pressure as the team looked for a second goal; then, at the 34th minute sophomore forward Elizabeth “Lizard” Blackwell crossed a high lobbing ball into the box amid a scrappy crowd of white and blue shirts. Rising above the others, sophomore midfielder Anais Ortiz got on the end of it with a looping header that somehow found the back of the net despite a Riverside defender’s shanked attempt to clear the ball.
By the end of the first half, San Diego came away with a number of unfinished chances which included numerous corners, narrowly missed close-range shots, and a few long distance screamers hitting the woodwork. At 2-0 up, though, the Tritons didn’t have too much to complain about.
In the second half, the team played a faster tempo, tearing Riverside’s midfield apart with quick passes and coordinated runs across the field. The third goal of the game came only a couple of minutes into the half from freshman forward Cynthia Ruiz – off of a Riverside goal kick, she pounced on an unsuspecting center back’s poor touch. With her teammates cheering her on, Ruiz singlehandedly stole the ball, dribbled into the box, and slotted it home.
Toward the end of the game, San Diego generated a multitude of midfield plays only to be caught offside, but Ruiz’s goal would be the last. UC San Diego’s defense remained largely untested throughout the game, prompting a goalkeeper substitution in the last thirty minutes of the game. From then on, the Tritons played on cruise control to close out the game, handing the team the first shutout and second win of the season.
The win against Riverside provided a much needed boost of encouragement and motivation for the team before it faces tougher opponents in the UC Santa Barbara Tournament next weekend.