LA JOLLA, Calif. - The Tritons needed a touch of magic.
Maddy Samilo was the one to provide just that with six minutes left in regulation, lifting the University of California San Diego women's soccer team over fierce regional rival Western Washington, 1-0, in its home opener Saturday at Triton Soccer Stadium.
With the scoreboard clock winding down, Caitlin McCarthy (Carlsbad/Carlsbad HS), played a through ball on the ground, for her fellow sophomore and San Diego product Samilo (Rancho Bernardo/Rancho Bernardo HS) to run onto. The right-sided winger took one dribble toward goal, and then found the calmness in that pressure-packed moment to give the most delicate of body dekes without touching the ball, to put Viking goalkeeper Natalie Dierickx down on her right side, before coolly touching the ball into the empty net, right-footed from close range.
It was Samilo's second late game-winner in as many matches to begin this 2018 season, and gave No. 5 UC San Diego the victory over No. 7 Western Washington in the top-10 showdown.
In addition to just the win on the day, the Tritons (2-0) also gain an early advantage in the race to host first-weekend action of the NCAA Championship come November. Western Washington falls to an even 1-1. Both sides had pulled out dramatic 2-1 road triumphs on Thursday, with Samilo finding the back of the net, from right around the exact same spot, actually, in the 87th minute at Concordia Irvine.
The teams had contested the past two West Region finals, splitting the affairs, with the Tritons taking last year's edition, 2-0 at home.
UC San Diego extended several streaks when the final horn sounded. The Tritons moved their unbeaten streak to 19 games (16-0-3) dating back to last season, and are now 20-0-1 over their last 21 in La Jolla. They also have come out on the right side of 13 consecutive one-goal decisions.
Western Washington held a 6-2 shot advantage at the break on Saturday, though all six shots were off target. UC San Diego had the lone shot on goal of the period, through a Roni Merrill header late that deflected off a defender and wound up in the clutches of Dierickx. The Tritons' only other shot was high off the boot of Samilo after senior forward Mary Reilly (Chula Vista/Hilltop HS) deftly laid off a right-sided cross by sophomore right back Natalie Widmer.
It was all Tritons after the break, as they outshot the visitors, 12-1, with the last of those being the only goal. Reilly's header off a feed from sophomore left back Delaney Whittet was denied by Dierickx in the 61st minute. Samilo then latched onto senior forward Megumi Barber's (San Diego/Mt. Carmel HS) corner kick in the 83rd, but put her shot high.
There was still some cause for concern after the goal, as Western Washington actually found the back of the net with about three and a half minutes left, Liv Larson heading Taylor Hallquist's free kick into the bottom left corner. The match referee got together with his assistant on that side of the field, and ultimately disallowed the goal due to offsides.
The Vikings were ultimately held without a shot on goal for the first time since Sept. 24, 2011.
Redshirt junior Angelica Ramos thus did not have to make a single save in posting her 13th clean sheet as a Triton. Dierickx finished with three stops. Reilly led all players with six shot attempts.
UC San Diego flies to Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, and will play its next three contests on the island of Oahu, beginning with a Tuesday night tilt at Hawai'i Pacific at 6 p.m. PT.
Triton Notes: UC San Diego improves to 7-3-1 all-time against Western Washington, with two straight shutout home wins ... The Tritons are 5-1 against the Vikings in La Jolla, outscoring them 13-1 ... UC San Diego has allowed nine goals during this 19-game unbeaten streak, the first one an own goal at Cal State Dominguez Hills last Sept. 22, and one from the penalty spot.
W⚽️: #ICYMI, with six minutes left in regulation Saturday, Maddy Samilo did THIS ⬇️ to lift No. 5️⃣ #UCSanDiego over seventh-ranked regional rival Western Washington, 1-0. 😱🙌🔱 #GoTritons #Tritons #CCAAws #D2Soccer #NCAAD2 #SCtop10 #NCAATop10 @goccaa @NCAADII @UCSanDiego pic.twitter.com/IIYNjZeLmp— UCSD Athletics (@UCSDtritons) September 3, 2018