The UC Irvine Women’s Soccer team (5-3-5, 1-0-4) tied the Cal State Fullerton Titans (5-4-4, 2-1-1), 0-0, at the Anteater Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 2. Each team played the game they set out to, but neither managed to gain a decisive edge.
Irvine aggressively played their game in the first half, pushing their midfielders to challenge Fullerton’s defense. The only problem with this strategy was the sloppy execution. The Anteaters’ midfielders dribbled into the defense, kicked away young possessions and stalled into turnovers.
The only reason this play didn’t cost the Anteaters was due to the stellar ‘Eater defense. Senior defender Maddy Chavez exemplified their play. She flew all over the field and covered all the space the midfield left unoccupied. This turned promising positions for the Titans into tough shots and tough shots into turnovers.
Junior goalkeeper Glo Hinojosa ensured that all eight shots Fullerton got in the first half were safely defused. She was calm and patient with the ball, and let the defense alter the shot as much as possible before smothering it.
Just before the halftime horn blew, the Anteaters gained some momentum by finally capitalizing on their aggression, getting three shots on goal. All three were tough attempts from a far distance that were easily deflected by the Fullerton goalkeeper.
This newly found aggression led the Titans to play their midfielders more cautiously in the second half, which allowed Irvine’s midfield more space to breathe, but cramped the striking space for the forwards leading to low percentage shots.
The same could not be said for Fullerton’s forwards, who often found themselves in immense amounts of space with few defenders in front of them. These attempts were stymied by the excellent communication from the ‘Eater defenders, making sure that while space was given, the extra pass was never open.
Both teams fought until the end of the game, but each had a strong back line that could prevent consecutive good shots on goal. Each was equally matched, and a draw was declared once the clock hit 90:00.
Next, Irvine will host Long Beach State for the Black and Blue rivalry series on Sunday, Oct. 9 at Anteater Stadium.
Benjamin Hendricks is a 2022-2023 Sports Staff Writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.