On Sunday, Jan. 14 UCSD hosted its first ever Women’s Club Soccer Alumni Game on Warren Field. On a sunny and abnormally warm afternoon, the Tritons half eagerly anticipated the arrival of their older opponents, half hoped the alumni would forget to show up so the team could get froyo instead. Just twenty minutes before kickoff, the alumni, many of whom were noticeably taller than the current UCSD women’s club soccer team, arrived suited up and ready to play. Their star-studded lineup included Olivia “Liv” Hadidian, Jahya Burke, Amanda Hong, Kelly Mitsumori, and more recent UCSD graduates including Audrey Mays, Andrea Morales, and current coach Monica Cuevas.
The Tritons suffered an early blow when, during warmups, sophomore Tori Woo felt her knee pop and fell to the ground. Her current diagnosis is TBD.
As their first game back from winter break, the Tritons started the half by shaking the rust off and getting back into a playing rhythm. The game was played in 15-minute or so intervals, with frequent water breaks whenever the alumni side became tired. UCSD had most of the possession early on, passing around well and generating a few shots on goal. As the game progressed, however, the alumni refused to back down and nearly found the back of the net off a breakaway chance. Not soon after, the alumni would make their mark on the scoresheet first: Liv Hadidian collected a through ball from the midfield, dribbled to beat her defender, and then poked the ball past goalkeeper Amy Schwartz, who was (and is still) recovering from various injuries. The game continued with both sides playing hard: though just a friendly, pride was on the line. By a stroke of luck, the Tritons got an opportunity to equalize: alumni Olivia Herrera was called for a handball in the 18-yard box, leading to a penalty kick for the Triton side. Junior Lizard Blackwell stepped up and calmly buried the ball into the right side netting, tying the score before the half.
In the second half, the Tritons picked up where they left off, but their speed of play was slower and accuracy of passes sloppier due to fatigue and the hot weather. Capitalizing on the Tritons’ weaknesses, the alumni side surged forward and produced many chances on goal, including an open goal shot for Kelly Mitsumori. The alumni eventually got their goal when Tara Loveland scored off a cross. Feeling the pressure, the Tritons played harder and with more ferocity, gaining possession in the attacking third but struggling to get back on counterattacks. Then, on the right side of the 18-yard box, Laurel Bowling received a long pass from center field and lobbed the ball into the goal just under the crossbar. The score was tied, 2-2, and would remain so for the rest of the game. Both sides walked off the field with smiles on their faces – new players shook hands with older players, friends were reunited, and by all accounts, the first ever alumni game was a success. Thank you to everybody who came out, and hope to see you next year!