UCSD Holds Top Spot After Tie

    WOMEN’S SOCCER — Reeling off five straight victories and a tie in their past six games, the Tritons now hold sole possession of first place in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.

    After knocking off then 12th-ranked Sonoma State, the Tritons found a rhythm recording three shut-outs and another win over a ranked opponent.

    The streak pushes the Tritons’ overall record to 12-2-1 with a 9-2 conference record, best in the CCAA. Despite the stellar standings, UCSD remains off the radar in the national polls. But according to head coach Brian McManus, rankings don’t mean anything.

    “We know how good we are and act and play accordingly,” he said. “We have won the South Division practically every year since we have been in it. The target is on our back, not anyone else’s.”

    The tie came Oct. 18 against Cal State Los Angeles at RIMAC Field. While disappointed that they couldn’t get the win, the Tritons are settling with the 0-0 draw.

    “It was ugly,” McManus said. “It wasn’t our best performance of the year, but we were coming off a big win over Cal State Dominguez Hills. That win drained a lot of players and we didn’t recover.”

    The win McManus refers to came against No. 20 Cal State Dominguez Hills, which has been battling with UCSD for first place the entire season. McManus said UCSD’s play was top notch in the match against the Toros and could easily be rated as the team’s most important win of the season.

    “It was a great game,” senior forward Natasha Belak-Berger said. “Both teams had a lot on the line and brought their best game. Our team is really young but that was as dominant as I have seen us play. We won’t necessarily forget such a big win, but we need to start focusing on our next three games and CCAA playoffs.”

    UCSD managed only eight shots in the contest but it didn’t matter as the Tritons toppled the Toros 2-1. The win ended the Toros’ seven-game winning streak and concluded a three-game road trip for UCSD, which proved it can win on the road. Belak-Berger said she plays an important role in getting the younger players psyched up for difficult away games.

    “Road trips are always hard,” Belak-Berger said. “Our fans aren’t there and it feels different, but we adapt and get focused. My job as a senior is to show the freshmen the tradition of UC San Diego and get them fired up.”

    Cal State Dominguez Hills put on an offensive showcase, outshooting the Tritons 17-8 during the game, but senior goalkeeper Jessica McGovern shut down the Toro offense allowing the lone goal off a corner kick.

    UCSD took the early lead on a goal from sophomore Lisa Bradley. Bradley took the cross from senior defender Amanda Esquivel and knocked it by the Toro goalkeeper to the near post to give the Tritons a 1-0 lead going into intermission.

    Out of the half, Belak-Berger scored her conference-leading 10th goal of the season giving the Tritons a two goal advantage. Cal State Dominguez Hills would tack on its goal in the 75th minute but couldn’t get the equalizer past McGovern’s solid performance.

    The Tritons now have some time to recover from the difficult week of play. They will face the Academy of Arts on Oct. 25 before concluding conference play the following week. McManus said the team is looking past this week’s match only because it isn’t a conference match.

    “[Academy of Arts] has played Sonoma State and San Francisco State to 1-0 games,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll get some bench players involved in the game, which has been hard to do because we played pretty poor against CSULA.”

    The Tritons will finish their season when they try on the road to avenge a double-overtime loss to Cal State San Bernardino and finish a season sweep against Cal Poly Pomona.

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