LA JOLLA, Calif. - The UC San Diego women’s soccer team began the weekend in fifth place in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) South Division, 10 points behind the leader.
UCSD walked off the grass at Triton Soccer Stadium Sunday in sole possession of second, just five points back of first, and in postseason position following a 2-0 victory over last-place Chico State.
The Tritons are now above .500 again at 5-4-3 overall and 4-3-3 in the CCAA. Chico State dropped to 4-6-2 overall and 2-6-2 in league play. Just as it did on Friday, UCSD got much assistance elsewhere, completing a second straight CCAA matchday as the only one of six teams in the South to earn the full three points. In fact, the remaining five CCAA contests Sunday all ended in draws. No. 25 Cal State San Bernardino remains atop the South, but its 10-point advantage was cut in half this weekend by UCSD.
Again like they did in Friday’s 2-1 defeat of CSUSB, the Tritons struck twice after the halftime interval. Redshirt freshman Kiera Bocchino’s opener proved to be her first career game-winner, coming at the 57:59 mark. After a Kylene Hill corner kick, Kiley Leshin played the ball back out to her fellow junior. Hill’s subsequent cross from the left was met by the head of Wildcat defender Halima Abdelshife. Bocchino pounced all over the rebound and roofed her right-footed volley over the Chico State goalkeeper and into the upper netting. It was Bocchino’s second goal in as many games, and impressively, all three of her strikes in her first season on the field for UCSD have come via volley. Hill was credited with her second assist on the year.
In the 78th minute, three true freshmen combined on the clincher, as Jamie Benedetto played a short pass to winger Jessica Dang, whose right-sided cross was headed toward the far post by Devon Roncoroni (San Diego/Bonita Vista HS), the ball smacking off the near post and into the back of the net. It was a first collegiate goal for Roncoroni and first career assist for Dang. For Benedetto, it was a third helper in the last two matches.
Sophomore goalkeeper Kelcie Brodsky made three saves for UCSD in notching her third shutout of the season and 12th of her career. Junior Brianna Furner made two stops for Chico State.
With the game still scoreless nine minutes into the second half, junior All-American Cassie Callahan (Coronado/Coronado HS) pushed her penalty-kick attempt just wide of the left post after a Wildcat foul in the box.
With 32 ticks left in the first half, Chico State defender Gail Bassett’s flashing near-post header from a Megan Tabler corner kick was cleared off the line at the back post by Triton freshman left back Kristen Sampietro’s header. Courtlynn Cerrito’s headed attempt off the rebound then went wide of the target.
Carly Singer produced the afternoon’s first scoring opportunity for the visitors just 101 seconds into the match, only for Brodsky to expertly tip the effort over the crossbar and out for a corner kick.
UCSD, which held a 13-11 shot advantage, had also taken a 2-0 lead over the Wildcats in this season’s earlier meeting in Chico on Sept. 20, before settling for a 2-2 tie through two overtimes.
The Tritons continue a season-long six-match homestand with two more critical divisional match-ups next weekend. UCSD hosts Cal State Dominguez Hills on Friday, Oct. 18. Kickoff at Triton Soccer Stadium is slated for 7 p.m., following the men’s game at 4:30 p.m.
Triton Notes: UCSD leads the all-time series, 11-5-2 ... The Tritons are 3-0-2 over the last five regular-season match-ups with Chico State since a 2-0 road loss in 2009.