IRVINE, Calif. - The fifth-ranked University of California San Diego women's soccer team rallied from a 1-0 halftime deficit to down host Concordia University Irvine, 2-1, in the 2018 season opener for both sides Thursday afternoon at Eagles Field.
The result stretched UC San Diego's (1-0) unbeaten streak now to 18 games (15-0-3) dating back to last season.
UC San Diego missed a golden opportunity to nab its first goal of the new season in the 18th minute, as freshman Eagle goalkeeper Hayley Garriott denied Triton co-captain Summer Bales from close range after a right-sided cross and near-post flick from fellow senior Mary Reilly (Chula Vista/Hilltop HS).
It was then ultimately the home side that found the opening tally, just before halftime, as sophomore forward Carmany Jones, the Eagles' lone Preseason All-Pacific West Conference (PacWest) Team representative, rolled her close-range shot into the bottom left corner beyond the reach of redshirt junior Triton goalkeeper Angelica Ramos.
UC San Diego equalized soon after the second-half whistle, as sophomore central midfielder Michelle Baddour, in her first collegiate start, notched the first goal of her career. The San Diego native out of University City High School struck a half-volley on a bouncing ball from the top of the box for 1-1.
What proved to be the winner came from another sophomore midfielder, winger Maddy Samilo (Rancho Bernardo/Rancho Bernardo HS), with 3:37 left in regulation. Samilo was there at the back post, right around the six-yard box, to pound home a right-footed shot from Bales' left-sided cross. It was her third career goal, and second winner. Bales had just reentered the pitch 61 seconds prior to the score.
"Concordia is a hard venue to play at, and it was a very competitive game for it being so early in the season," said UC San Diego assistant coach Kristin Jones. "These types of moments, when you have to deal with adversity, or in this case a deficit, really bring the team together. The attitudes at halftime were great, and we knew the chances would come. I'm just proud that they found a way to finish them."
Ramos made five saves in the Triton net, in her return to competitive action after a season-ending knee injury kept her out of her team's three NCAA Championship contests last November. Garriott came up with seven stops in her collegiate debut.
True freshmen Sophia Bruno, Emily Killeen, Ashlynn Kolarik, Christina Oddone (Carlsbad/Carlsbad HS) and Marissa Ray made their college debuts for UC San Diego, with sophomore forward Mia Bonifazi, a transfer from the University of San Francisco, drawing her first Triton appearance off the bench in the first half.
UC San Diego is now set for its 2018 home opener this Saturday, Sept. 1, a marquee showdown with seventh-ranked rival Western Washington. Kickoff at Triton Soccer Stadium on North Campus in La Jolla is set for 3:30 p.m. The Vikings were also dramatic 2-1 road victors in their opener on Thursday, at Point Loma. Parking and admission will be free on Saturday. Fans unable to attend can watch in high definition on UCSDtritons.tv.
Triton Notes: UC San Diego is 3-0 all-time against Concordia Irvine, with prior home wins in 2017 (3-0) and 2015 (2-1) ... The Tritons are 17-1-1 in season openers in their NCAA Division II era, now with four successive victories in which they have outscored their opponents, 12-2 ... Fourth-year senior forward Megumi Barber earned just her second collegiate start, the other coming last Nov. 3 against Cal State San Marcos in the CCAA Tournament semifinals ... Redshirt sophomore Roni Merrill entered in the second half, having last appeared on Nov. 18, 2016, and missed the entire 2017 season through injury ... UC San Diego has allowed nine goals during this 18-game unbeaten streak, the first one an own goal at Cal State Dominguez Hills last Sept. 22, and one from the penalty spot ... Summer Bales now has 16 career assists after a team-leading seven a year ago ... It was a first college start for new center back Kelsey Kimball, who last played on Nov. 18, 2016, before missing 2017 due to injury ... The Tritons have come out on the right end of 12 successive one-goal decisions going back to last year.