No. 16 Tritons Topple CCAA Foe

Five-foot-6-inch senior midfielder Chelsey Campbell had a hard time shooting over the tall Chico State defenders on Oct. 19, but she assisted on a header for a goal in a 4-0 win over Cal State Stanislaus on Oct. 21. (Erik Jepsen/Guardian)

Just as the San Diego sun set
over Triton Soccer Field early on Oct. 19, the UCSD women’s soccer team made
one last futile attempt to push the ball toward the Chico State
goal, hoping for an equalizing goal to send the game into overtime. As was the
pattern all game long, the Tritons just could not penetrate the Chico State
defense and fell victim to the Wildcats, 1-0, for their second straight home
loss.

With only three games left in the regular season, UCSD
proved that its aspirations of a national championship are not unfounded by
bouncing back on Oct. 21 with a resounding 4-0 win over Cal State Stanislaus.
The game was accentuated by an overpowering Triton offense that scored three
first-half goals and dominated the time of possession.

The recent UCSD losses have coincided with an expanding
injured-reserve list. The makeshift lineup has been doing its best to step in,
and the Triton bench has performed admirably.

“We’ve been missing a couple of starters due to injuries
lately and that has been really hard on us,” senior midfielder Chelsey Campbell
said. “[Junior] Amanda Esquivel and [senior] Stacy Johnson are our two outside
defenders, so right now we’re missing two out of our three defenders and that’s
hard to overcome. Stacy has been out for almost a month but we’re looking to
get her back next Friday, so that should be a big lift.”

The first 30 minutes of Friday’s game saw UCSD and Chico
State trading offensive drives that fell short. Each team had opportunities,
especially from corner kicks, but was unable to capitalize.

“We didn’t have some luck behind us versus Chico [State],”
senior defender Nicole Pepper said. “We had opportunities but we didn’t have
that extra oomph that we needed. Sometimes we have dry spells. It happens in
soccer and sometimes the best team doesn’t win.”

In the 31st minute when the Triton defense was trying to
clear the ball, a UCSD turnover deflected the ball back into Wildcat possession
in front of the goal, and Chico State forward Melissa Lindsay was able to beat
junior goalkeeper Jessica McGovern with a low, hard shot that was just beyond
the reach of McGovern’s dive. The goal proved to be the game-winner, as neither
team was able to score again.

UCSD simply could not penetrate Chico State’s unusually tall
defense the rest of the game, managing only five shots on goal. For a Triton
team not known for its height, the obstacle of four tall Wildcats blocking the
goal was too much to overcome.

“We never really got to connecting good passes and getting
good plays together so we ended up having the midfielders playing the ball up
in the air,” senior midfielder Ali Lai said. “Their entire back line was at
least 5-foot-10-inches [tall] or 5-foot-11-inches and I’m 5-foot-3-inches, so
we couldn’t get to those balls.”

Despite two recent losses, the Tritons are not pressing and
taking their season one game at a time.

“We’re not starting to crack and we’re not losing our composure,”
Pepper said. “Sometimes you just have those losses. You have those games where
you knew you could win, it’s just putting it together from the back all the way
to the front. We’re a really strong team mentally so it’s just going to come
down to us coming together and showing we can win.”

The Tritons realize that they cannot continue their style of
play if they hope to play deep into the postseason.

“I think it’s getting harder to get away with playing this
poorly,” Campbell said. “We can’t play like this in the postseason. We’re good
at making the [California Collegiate Athletic Association] league championships
but there is no way get away with this in the NCAAs. We’ll regroup and play
like we know how.”

Sunday’s win will hopefully get the Tritons back on track
for their last two regular season games so they can head into the postseason
with some momentum. On Oct. 26, UCSD will take on Cal State San Bernardino at
home.

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