LA JOLLA, Calif. - A goal with just 68 seconds left in regulation resigned the third-ranked UC San Diego women’s soccer team to a tough 1-0 loss to No. 12 Western Washington University in a key West Region match-up Saturday night at Triton Soccer Stadium.
With the scoreboard showing 88:52, Stephanie Hamilton sent a short through ball up the center of the field, with teammate Jessica Bertucci slipping her sliding shot past charging Triton goalkeeper Kelcie Brodsky, with the ball rolling ever-so-slowly into the vacated net as the decider.
It was the first-ever loss for UCSD (1-1) against Western Washington, having previously gone 5-0-1 against their regional rivals, including a 2-1 overtime triumph in the 2012 NCAA Division II Championship West Region final in Denver, Colo., last November. In fact, Bertucci’s goal was WWU’s first in La Jolla following losses of 1-0 (2001), 4-0 (2006) and 5-0 (2009) in three previous visits.
Alyssa Beauchamp made four saves to earn the shutout in the 2013 season opener for WWU (1-0). The Vikings outshot the Tritons, 14-8.
Brodsky wound up with seven saves on the night for UCSD. Junior forward Izzy Pozurama had a team-high three shot attempts.
Each side had at least one true scoring opportunity in both halves. Just two and a half minutes into the first, freshman Triton forward Jamie Benedetto narrowly pushed her effort wide of the post after redshirt freshman winger Kiera Bocchino’s clever pass. In the 32nd minute, a well-worked free-kick organization by WWU involving first Kristin Maris and then Ashton Griffen saw the ball wind up at the foot of Hamilton, whose hard shot forced a great reaction save by a diving Brodsky.
Midway through the second stanza, Elise Aylward’s right-sided cross was hammered from close range by Catherine Miles, but right into Brodsky’s chest. Moments later, Benedetto crossed also from the right, only for junior All-American midfielder Cassie Callahan (Coronado/Coronado HS) to head wide of the target.
“The performance wasn’t bad, but physically, we let ourselves be muscled,” said Triton head coach Brian McManus. “Our veteran players need to step up and be leaders on the field. Actually, we probably played better soccer than we did in Thursday night’s win (over No. 21 Seattle Pacific), but we’ve got to learn when it’s time to clear the ball out of the danger zone. That hurt us at the end.”
UCSD now embarks on a season-long four-match road stretch to begin the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) portion of its 2013 schedule. The Tritons are defending CCAA champions as record eight-time winners. The run kicks off at Cal State Dominguez Hills on Friday, Sept. 13, at 4:30 p.m.
Triton Notes: Sophomore Maile Nilsson (San Diego/The Preuss School UCSD) drew her first collegiate start ... Freshman Kylee Southwell started at an outside back spot after beginning Thursday night’s opener in midfield in her college debut.