LA JOLLA, Calif. - Third-ranked University of California San Diego edged crosstown rival Cal State San Marcos, 1-0, in the semifinal round of the 2017 California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Women's Soccer Tournament in front of 718 spectators at Triton Soccer Stadium on Friday night.
With the victory, top-seeded regular-season champion UC San Diego improved to 14-2-2 overall. Cal State San Marcos, the No. 5 seed in its first CCAA Tournament in its first season of CCAA and NCAA Division II postseason eligibility, concludes its season at 8-7-3. It was the third meeting between city rivals this year, with the Tritons taking a pair of 1-0 home decisions around a scoreless draw in San Marcos.
True freshman Maddy Samilo (San Diego/Rancho Bernardo HS), making her first collegiate start as UCSD was missing five veteran starters due to injury and illness, scored the lone goal in the 67th minute. Fellow freshman Caitlin McCarthy (Carlsbad/Carlsbad HS) played the ball out to the left flank, and junior winger Summer Bales let loose with a pinpoint left-footed cross that took two bounces to the far post, where Samilo got on the end of it and shot right-footed from close range off that right post and in. It was Samilo's second goal of the season and first career game-winner. Bales and McCarthy both gained credit for assists, with Bales' her team-best fifth, and McCarthy's her fourth.
UCSD stays a perfect 10-0 at home in 2017, and extends its unbeaten stretch to 11-0-2 over the last 13 since back-to-back road losses in Colorado in early September.
There was a key moment just seconds before Samilo's goal, that even allowed her to notch the winner. Redshirt sophomore Natalie Saddic (San Diego/UC Davis/Torrey Pines HS), playing center back for the first time as a collegian due to the loss of senior Brie Diaz in the regular-season finale last Saturday, Oct. 28, tracked all the way back to clear a sure goal off the line in the 63rd minute. Cougar freshman Yesenia Betancourt's (Carlsbad/Carlsbad HS) goalie punt was headed forward by Lauren Perry to leave senior striker Kayla Anderson sprinting toward the penalty area with only Triton goalkeeper Angelica Ramos to beat. Anderson got to the ball first and chipped her shot over Ramos, but Saddic, named the CCAA Defensive Player of the Year the day before, showed why, as she did not quit on the play and got to her goal line just in time to kick it away right-footed and keep it scoreless.
Just over four minutes later, Samilo broke that deadlock, and the Tritons hung on.
Alongside Samilo, junior Megumi Barber (San Diego/Mt. Carmel HS) and sophomore Lauren Plesse drew their first collegiate starts at forward and holding central midfielder, respectively. Plesse was doing Saddic's usual job. UCSD was missing senior starters Makenzie Brito, Brie Diaz, Aimee Ellis and Jordyn McNutt (San Diego/University City HS), as well as junior forward Mary Reilly (Chula Vista/Hilltop HS). Redshirt freshman Georgia Lodge made her college debut as a first-half substitute. UC San Diego head coach Brian McManus was forced to start four true freshmen in the team’s postseason opener, a season high.
Ramos, named Thursday as the CCAA Newcomer of the Year, came up with two saves for a 12th individual clean sheet. Betancourt made three stops for the Cougars.
The Tritons advance to a record 11th CCAA Tournament final, and will look for a record 11th tourney title against third-seeded and 23rd-ranked Sonoma State this Sunday, Nov. 5. Kickoff at Triton Soccer Stadium on North Campus in La Jolla is slated for 2 p.m., after the men's final at 11:30 a.m. between Cal Poly Pomona and Cal State LA. Sunday's finals will both air, without a charge, in high definition on UCSDtritons.tv. Parking is free.
Sonoma State was a 2-0 victor over No. 2 seed Cal State LA in Friday's first women's semifinal. The Tritons and Seawolves have not played each other yet this year, as their scheduled regular-season matchup in Rohnert Park on Oct. 15, was canceled due to the severe wildfires in that area. Sunday will mark their third meeting in a CCAA final, with UCSD coming away with the crown both previous times.
Triton Notes: UCSD leads the all-time series, 5-0-2, including 4-0-1 in La Jolla ... The Tritons have outscored the Cougars 10-0 in those seven meetings, not surrendering a single goal over 670 minutes ... UCSD is an unbeaten 31-0-2 in its last 33 matches against CCAA opposition in all competitions (CCAA regular season, CCAA Tournament and non-conference), since a 1-0 loss at Sonoma State on Oct. 18, 2015 ... UCSD has held a 74-8 scoring advantage in those 33 games, and trailed in only two ... The Tritons have allowed just three goals during their current 13-game unbeaten streak (11-0-2), the first one an own goal at Cal State Dominguez Hills on Sept. 22 ... UCSD head coach Brian McManus is now just two wins shy of 500 for his legendary career ... UCSD is 10-1 in one-goal games this year, with seven 1-0 decisions in its favor ... For the second time this year, the Tritons did not allow a single corner kick ... Maddy Samilo's first collegiate goal had come all the way back in the season opener on Aug. 31, also at home ... Freshmen Caitlin McCarthy of the Tritons and Yesenia Betancourt of CSUSM were teammates at Carlsbad High School ... Prior to tonight, Mary Reilly had not missed a single game in her college career, starting each of the first 61.