Offense runs dry in regional finals match

    The No. 13 UCSD women’s soccer team’s season has finally come to a close, with a 2-0 loss to No. 2 Seattle Pacific University in the final game of the NCAA Far West Regional on Nov. 12. The loss came after toppling No. 19 Cal State Dominguez Hills 1-0 in the first round to earn a spot in the game against the Falcons.

    The Tritons, which came into the Seattle Pacific game with a record of 18-4-0, largely controlled the play during the first half.

    “We gave them a [soccer] clinic and scared them off,” junior midfielder Kelly Cochran said.

    UCSD outshot Seattle Pacific 10-1 in the first half and amassed more corner kicks, with a 5-3 edge. Still, the team remained bereft of a goal.

    “We didn’t do our job — we should have scored a goal,” Cochran said.

    UCSD lost out on two early opportunities to take control.

    Junior Megan Dickey cracked a 22-yard free kick that bounced off the left post in the ninth minute.

    Three minutes later, Dickey crafted a brilliant free kick, only to have it deflected after freshman Falcon goalkeeper Jennifer Burns made a desperate leap to tip it away.

    Realizing its opportunities and mistakes, Seattle Pacific entered the second stanza with a new aggressive attitude.

    “They made adjustments and we broke down,” Cochran said.

    Five minutes into the second half, the Falcons quickly capitalized on a Triton miscalculation, which enabled them to score two goals less than three minutes apart.

    Falcon freshman Meredith Teague propelled a high cross into the box, which sprung up high off the turf for the first goal.

    Freshman UCSD goalie Mia Shirley briefly backpedaled, which permitted the ball to go over her outstretched arms and enter hard against the net.

    The goal came at 50 minutes, 36 seconds, and was only the second Seattle Pacific shot of the game.

    Falcon sophomore Sarah Martinez added another goal with the excitement from the first still in the air.

    Martinez took down a high ball at the top of the box, touched it twice and fired it right-footed into the left corner at 53:10.

    The goal marked the 16th of the season for Martinez, with half of them accrued in the last seven games.

    Later, Martinez endeavored to push her team’s advantage even further when she attempted a 16-yard shot. However, Shirley dove down to carefully manipulate the ball from the post in the 70th minute.

    The second half was truly devastating for the Tritons. Decisively turning the tables on UCSD, the Falcons seized an 8-2 advantage in shots.

    “We were tight defensively all over but we just didn’t come out strong,” Cochran said.

    Any scoring opportunities UCSD had in the first half had effectively dried up in the second.

    Burns was forced to make only three saves in the entire game, which allowed her to celebrate her seventh and the team’s 12th shutout of the season.

    A hard ball across the crease by junior Alise Malley, which was brutally tackled away from Dickey’s feet, marked the only UCSD threat in the second half.

    The Falcons, who have a record of 19-0-3, are still undefeated and will now host a national quarterfinal game on Nov. 19 against the winner of the NCAA Midwest Regional final between No. 1 Metro State and Regis University.

    To get to the matchup against Seattle Pacific in the regional final, the Tritons had to face Cal State Dominguez Hills in a rematch of the CCAA Championship, which the Tritons won on Nov. 6.

    UCSD won the rematch as well, winning 1-0 on strong defense and a lone goal from freshman Natasha Belak-Berger in the 51st minute.

    “Our defense held them solid, while their defense was weak,” Cochran said.

    Despite the fact that Cal State Dominguez Hills controlled the action in the first half and outshot the Tritons 4-1, due to the typically stingy Triton defense, they were unable to find the back of the net.

    “The field was an incredibly wet turf, and the balls were just flying, so our coach [Brian McManus] brought in forwards who could hold the ball so everyone else could work off them,” Cochran said.

    In the second half, UCSD made some adjustments after recognizing the opportunity to utilize the field conditions to their advantage.

    The game continued to be a scoreless quagmire until five minutes into the second half.

    Belak-Berger’s shot from 16 yards out deflected off a Toro defender and ricocheted to the lower left corner of the net past freshman goalie Lisa Agramonte for the only goal of the game.

    Belak-Berger’s momentous goal was her eighth of the season, the most by any Triton freshman on the roster.

    Shirley made three saves in the contest while facing five Cal State Dominguez Hills shots, marking her eighth shutout of the season.

    On the other side, Agramonte made one save in the match while facing six shots from the Tritons.

    The Triton triumph marked their third win over the Toros in 2005 and the second consecutive success after posting the 4-3 win in the CCAA Championship.

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