Top of the Conference

    The No. 7 UCSD women’s soccer team finished off its regular season this weekend with two more wins at home, beating San Francisco State 1-0 and Cal Poly Pomona 2-0.

    Last year’s conference champion, San Francisco State — who has an 8-8-2 overall record this year — came out strong against the Tritons on Friday. With the season on the line, the normally defensive-minded squad pushed to attack.

    “We had a little trouble playing the way that we usually do in the first half,” senior goalkeeper Kristin Armstrong said.
    “We needed to just get the ball on the ground and play around them.”

    The Tritons still managed to outshoot the Gators 6-3 in the first half, but San Francisco goalkeeper Annicia Jones — whose performance in the net led the Gators to last year’s conference championship — did well to deny UCSD.

    With the score drawn 0-0 at the end of the half, UCSD regrouped in the second half.

    “[Head coach Brian McManus] wasn’t too happy with our first half,” Armstrong said. “But we were able to calm
    ourselves down and move the ball around, and we were able to get the goal from there.”

    The Tritons recorded 16 shots to the Gators’ three in the second half. But much to Jones’ credit, San Francisco shut UCSD out until the 69th minute.

    The Tritons nearly took the lead in the 68th minute, when junior midfielder Jessica Wi was brought down in the 18-yard box for a penalty kick. Junior defender Ellen Wilson stepped up to take the kick, shooting low to the left corner, but
    Jones made the diving save.

    “It would have been easy to get our heads down after that,” Armstrong said. “[San Francisco] beat us in penalty kicks last year. But it was really big for us that Wi was able to put it away.”

    Just over a minute later, junior defender Hayley Johnson took a shot that deflected off the crossbar, and Wi was there to capitalize. Dribbling inside the box, Wi took a shot from the far right that found its way past the San Francisco goalkeeper.

    UCSD cruised to the 1-0 lead, with the Triton defense shutting out the Gator attack.

    Recently named the No. 1 backline in the nation, the Triton defense — sweeper Wilson, right-back senior Sara Spaventa, left-back Johnson and Armstrong in the net — have recorded the lowest goals-against percentage in the country. The four, who have played in the back together for the past three seasons, registered their 10th shutout with the win.

    On Sunday, the Tritons capped their regular season with a 2-0 win against Cal Poly Pomona. In its home game, UCSD honored nine graduating seniors: Armstrong, Spaventa, Annie Wethe, Sarah McTigue, Shelby Wong, Courtney Capobianco, Lindsey Mills, Katie Kuykendall and Sarah Garland.

    Again, the Tritons had a difficult time in the first half.

    “I wouldn’t say that we played poorly in the first half,” Armstrong said. “But it was kind of like we were weathering the storm. Our defense kept us in the game before we were able to get on the board.”

    Much to Pomona’s credit, the Broncos managed to outshoot the Tritons in the first half, 6-5. But UCSD finally found the net in the second half.

    In the 49th minute, Johnson sent a corner kick in from the left side. The ball slipped through to the back post. Freshman Cassie Callahan made a run down the right flank, chasing down the ball to send a cross to junior forward Gabi Hernandez, who finished past the Pomona goalkeeper.

    Armstrong did well to keep the net clean for UCSD, recording seven saves in the campaign before the Tritons sealed the win with a goal from sophomore Izzy Pozurama in the 82nd minute.

    With only one loss the entire season, the Tritons finish conference play with 39 points — six points in front of No. 2 CSU Los Angeles.

    The Tritons were the first of the four teams to guarantee their spot in the conference championships, winning a postseason berth last week after defeating Sonoma State. They will be joined by South Division team CSU Los Angeles as well as North Division representatives Chico State and CSU Stanislaus, who snubbed Sonoma State for the last spot.

    “We want to do well this weekend, but we’re still always looking to peak in the [national tournament],” Armstrong said.
    Top-seeded UCSD will head to Turlock to face off against fourth-seeded CSU Stanislaus on Friday, Nov. 4. The winner will play in the final against the winner of the Chico State-CSU Los Angeles match.

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