Women’s soccer steamrolls Bakersfield; prepares for playoffs

    The Oct. 30 game against Cal State Bakersfield was a must-win for the UCSD women’s soccer team if it wanted to play past the regular season. The Tritons answered the call and clinched a playoff berth by demolishing Cal State Bakersfield, 6-1, at RIMAC Field.

    “It was a huge win coming off two losses,” senior goalie Jamie Lautenschleger said. “We have the confidence, we’re a great team, we’ve really got amazing skill and we can breathe easier knowing that we can get the job done when we show up to play.”

    The California Collegiate Athletic Association Champion-ships will be held from Nov. 5 through Nov. 7 and hosted by Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson, Calif.

    Leading the way for UCSD were freshman midfielder Ali Lai and sophomore forward Kathy Sepulveda, who each posted two goals and one assist. Sophomore forward Kelly Cochran and junior midfielder Meira Dinsmore added a goal apiece. Cochran also picked up two assists in the game.

    “We needed to win today and we need to win again [on Nov. 1]; it’s as simple as that,” UCSD head coach Brian McManus said. “We came out, we struggled a little bit after going 2-1 … but once the second half started, 10, 15 minutes in, it was like we stepped up. We knew we screwed up and came out in the second half even more focused, which was great. And [Cal State Bakersfield] never really threatened, so it was good, a good win, a big win.”

    The win improves UCSD to 13-3-1 overall and 9-3-1 in the CCAA, while Cal State Bakersfield drops to 2-13-5 and 1-9-4 in the CCAA.

    The Tritons lit up the scoreboard when Cochran sent a feed to Lai who blasted the ball into the right corner from 12 yards out for a quick 1-0 lead in the second minute. Five minutes later, freshman defender Stacy Johnson joined the offensive rush and sent a pass across to Lai, who was parked six yards out from the right side of the net. Lai put the ball into the net for her second goal of the game.

    But in the 35th minute, Cal State Bakersfield was awarded a penalty kick, which sophomore forward Taylar Sklar kicked into the upper- right corner to put the Roadrunners back in the game at 2-1.

    The penalty kick proved to be the only time the Roadrunners would score, as UCSD exploded with five unanswered goals in the second half.

    In the 49th minute, Lai dribbled toward the net and passed it to an onrushing Sepulveda on her right. From 10 yards out, Sepulveda’s shot went over Cal State Bakersfield goalie Sara Purdy’s head.

    Three minutes later, Cochran scored her sixth goal of the season to put the Tritons up even higher, 4-1. Senior midfielder Jaclyn Shaffer and Sepulveda were rushing into the Roadrunners’ zone on the left side. Sepulveda fed the ball to Shaffer, who spotted Cochran running up to the right post. Shaffer sent the ball over to Cochran, who headed it to the back of the net from four yards out.

    In the 56th minute, Sepulveda and Cochran attacked again. This time, Cochran sent the ball to Sepulveda, who headed it in for her second goal of the season.

    Meanwhile, UCSD played solid defense in front of Lautenschleger, with junior defender Heather Szafraniec directing traffic in the Tritons’ backfield to prevent the Roadrunners from creating any scoring opportunities.

    Because the Tritons got off to a huge lead early in the second half, it allowed McManus to rest his starters and give his other players a chance to play. Junior midfielder Meira Dinsmore came off the bench to tally her first goal of the season late in the half to give UCSD a 6-1 lead that secured the victory.

    This triumph was especially sweet for Shaffer and Lautenschleger, who were honored on Senior Day. Both have enjoyed the time that they have spent playing for UCSD.

    “This has been awesome,” Lautenschleger said. “I didn’t play terribly much during the last three years — and it was hard — but the rewards came, and I love the game. [This season] has been very fortunate, I have an awesome defense, so the year has definitely been a blessing.”

    Lautenschleger has a goals-against average of 0.67 to lead all goalies in the CCAA plus 52 saves, including eight shutouts in the season. Shaffer has three goals and an assist so far in her last year of play.

    The Tritons have one game left in the season against Cal State San Bernardino on Nov. 1. UCSD will play at RIMAC Field at 7 p.m.

    Shaffer knows UCSD is capable of closing out its season with a win.

    “I think we have to keep doing what we’ve been doing and just play with a lot of heart,” Shaffer said. “I think sometimes we’re missing that. We have all the talent that we need.”

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