Moving On Up

    The women’s soccer team collected two more hard-fought wins this weekend, shutting out Cal State San Bernardino for a 2-0 victory and rallying for a dramatic 3-2 win over Cal Poly Pomona in overtime.

    The Tritons dominated the run of play against the Cal State San Bernardino Coyotes in their first conference home game of the season, picking up an important win that pushed them past the Coyotes in the conference rankings.

    Playing in front of a packed crowd, the Tritons set the tone from the beginning of the match.  In just the third minute of play, sophomore defender Hayley Johnson sent a corner kick into the goal box, where junior midfielder Annie Wethe sent a well-placed header past Coyote goalkeeper Tiffany Mallick. The goal was Wethe’s second of the season, and marked Johnson’s fifth assist.

    Johnson said she had anticipated being relied upon to consistently provide effective free kicks.

    “Coming into the season, I knew I would have a big role in set plays, and I have practiced hard over the summer to try and get them right,” Johnson said.

    Johnson went on to rack up two more assists over the weekend, both of which resulted from set play opportunities.

    UCSD’s early strike deflated the Coyote play, setting the stage for another Triton goal, this time from junior forward Sarah McTigue.  McTigue capitalized on a botched clearance from the Coyote defense, scoring from six yards out in the 23rd minute.

    The goal from McTigue secured the Triton victory, moving UCSD to 3-2-2 in conference play.

    “Our luck finally took a turn and we were able to put the ball in the back of the net to win the game,” sophomore defender Ellen Wilson said.

    The Tritons carried the momentum from Friday’s win into their match against the Cal Poly Pomona Broncos on Sunday, converting their first goal just five minutes into the game.  McTigue, recently named the CCAA Player of the Week, gave the Tritons a 1-0 lead as she flicked a deflection off a rebound from a hard shot by senior forward Annette Ilg into the net.

    The Tritons maintained the majority of possession throughout the half, although they were outshot 7-3. However, UCSD made the most out of their limited opportunities, and Ilg doubled the Triton lead in the 19th minute by sending a header past Bronco goalkeeper Sarah Rohman off a free kick by Johnson. The goal was Ilg’s fifth of the season, making the graduate student the team’s top scorer.

    Going into the second half, the Tritons maintained their 2-0 lead. This was quickly cut down, however, by a singular effort from substitute Valerie Strawn, who shot a lofted ball into the far post to beat Triton junior goalkeeper Kristin Armstrong.

    Momentum swung to the Broncos with the goal, as they frustrated the Tritons in possession and continued to outshoot UCSD. Twelve minutes later, Pomona forward Jennifer Rivera collected the equalizer when she capitalized on a missed clearance within the Triton goal box.

    With the score now tied and a little over 15 minutes left in the match, head coach Brian McManus looked to his bench for offense, putting McTigue and Ilg back on the pitch.  However, it was the defensive pairing of Wilson and Johnson that would put in the winning goal in the overtime period.

    “With 20 seconds left in overtime, [McManus] called for a hero,” Johnson said, regarding her seventh assist of the season. “But I was more like the Robin to [Wilson’s] Batman.”

    In the dying moments of the match, Johnson swung a corner kick into the goal box, where senior midfielder Lisa Bradley received it. Bradley fired a hard shot, which was blocked by the Pomona goalkeeper. Wilson picked up the deflection and buried a sure strike to end the game.

    “My first goal of this season could not have come at a better time,” Wilson said. “Scoring the game-winning goal was relieving more than anything after we let Pomona come back into the game second half. I was just in the right place at the right time to rebound the ball into the back of the net.”

    The Tritons came out of the two-game campaign 4-2-2 in conference play, moving them up to the third spot in the CCAA South Division. The squad is now unbeaten in their last five matches.

    This weekend UCSD will take on Cal State Dominguez Hills and Cal State Los Angeles — two Southern California rivals.

    “It’s the biggest weekend of the season,” Johnson said. “I think we’re ready. We’re finally getting our groove on.”

    UCSD will be taking a road trip to challenge Cal State Dominguez Hills on Friday, and on Sunday will look forward to a match against nationally-ranked Cal State Los Angeles.

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