LA JOLLA, Calif. -
The No. 8 UC San Diego women's soccer team scored twice in the second half to take a 2-0 win from Sonoma State on Sunday afternoon at Triton Soccer Field.
The win improves the Tritons to 11-1-4 overall and 10-1-3 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association. In addition, the win clinched a berth in November 4-6's CCAA Championships for the Tritons. Sonoma State, who came into the match in first place in the CCAA North Division, drops to 8-6-2 overall and 8-4-2 in conference competition.
Moreover, UCSD will be the No. 1 or No. 2 seed for the CCAA Championships, as only No. 20 Cal State. L.A. can catch the Tritons in terms of points in conference play. CSULA, who had not played at the time of publishing, had 26 points with three matches left as of Sunday afternoon. The Tritons have 33 points with two matches left.
After the teams battled for 45 minutes with no score, UCSD got the break-through goal just three minutes into the second stanza. Jessica Wi earned a corner kick on the right side and Hayley Johnson sent an in-swinger to the back half of the six yard box. UCSD forward Sarah McTigue outjumped SSU goalkeeper Alexis Sciacqua for the cross, heading in her seventh goal of the season into the top of the net.
"The second half we kept the ball, we managed the ball, and got in behind them," said UCSD head coach Brian McManus. "That's what our strengths are. McTigue knows where to go on corners and she had a great finish."
The assist gives Johnson 26 assists for her career, moving her into ninth place in school history. She has 12 assists this season.
UCSD got some insurance with 4:51 left, as another Johnson corner kick caused issues for the Seawovles' defense. After Johnson's serve dropped to the feet of Wi inside the six, Wi played a soft pass back for Sara Spaventa above the penalty box. Spaventa collected herself before taking two touches and firing a shot toward goal.
Spaventa's attempt hit the cross bar and dropped directly in front of net. Courtney Capobianco, who had crashed the six on Spaventa's attempt, beat Sciacqua to the bouncing ball before heading it in from two yards out.
"Courtney's goal, well, you can't say enough," said McManus. "You have to be brave to go in there. The keeper can use her fists and punch and everything. To go in there like that is brilliant."
The goal marked Capbianco's second score in three games and gave her four goals on the season. Spaventa was credited with her first assist of 2011.
There were a wealth of opportunities for both teams to get on the board in the first half.
McTigue earned the Tritons' first free kick in a dangerous position, getting fouled above the left edge of the box 20 minutes in. She elected to take the free kick herself, but her right-footed attempt curled just left of the front post. Moments later, McTigue put another shot on-frame by spinning to take a shot from 20 yards out. However, it did not trouble Sciacqua, who shuffled two steps to her right to make the save.
The Seawolves most likely should have converted with 15 minutes left in the first half, as Elena Catania worked the ball toward the right side of the end line. She played a hard ball on the ground back to the penalty spot intended for Bree Robles who had inside position on her defender. Robles cracked a shot one-time, but her low attempt to the right corner was pushed out by Armstrong for a corner kick.
In control of the run of play after McTigue's goal, UCSD had a wealth of opportunities to make it 2-0 before Capobianco finally converted. Shelby Wong nearly came up with her fourth goal in two matches, just missing the far corner inside the back post on a shot from the left edge of the 18. In the 65th minute, Wong clanged a shot off the crossbar after catching Sciacqua off guard from 28 yards out.
"We're doing well. Today was nearly a complete game," said McManus. "We want to try and finish first going into conference before playoffs. Then, we just worry about regionals, the conference tournament doesn't matter."
UCSD can clinch the top seed for the CCAA Championships with a win next weekend in one of the Tritons' final two matches at Triton Soccer Field. UCSD faces San Francisco State at 7:00 p.m. on Friday night before finishing the regular season against Cal Poly Pomona at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.