LA JOLLA, Calif. - The 10th-ranked University of California San Diego women's soccer team had little difficulty in defeating city rival Point Loma, 3-0, in the 2017 season opener for both sides at Triton Soccer Stadium on Thursday night.
Officially just the fourth installment of the San Diego derby, this one, like the previous three, went the way of UC San Diego (1-0). Point Loma (0-1) has still yet to score on the Tritons over 360 minutes of play all-time.
It took a mere 118 seconds for UCSD to notch its first goal of the new campaign. Though it first looked like its prolific strike tandem of Mary Reilly (Chula Vista/Hilltop HS) and Katie O'Laughlin (Carlsbad/Pacific Ridge School) had combined on it, closer inspection, and O'Laughlin's admission to the sideline, made it clear that in fact Sea Lion defender Emily Gehlbach had knocked the ball into her net for an own goal. Reilly fed a short pass toward O'Laughlin in the middle, and Gehlbach's right-footed, squib-kick clearance went into the bottom right corner.
Two true freshmen and two more San Diego products, combined on a stellar strike late in the period. The opener had come at 1:58, and oddly, the second was scored with 1:58 remaining in the first half. Caitlin McCarthy (Carlsbad/Carlsbad HS) played a short pass, this one from right to left, to Maddy Samilo (San Diego/Rancho Bernardo HS), who took a couple of touches further to the left and unleashed a wicked left-footer from right about 25 yards out that traveled right over the goalkeeper's outstretched arms and found the back of the net. Samilo, a right-footed player, had only entered the contest at the 36:00 mark, so she was on the field for just over seven minutes in her college debut, before putting away her first goal.
Nearing the end of a dominant second half, O'Laughlin was ultimately not to be denied that 2017 opener, starting her senior-season account at 76:16 through an impressive team effort. Fellow senior tri-captain Makenzie Brito passed a ball forward on her right side, and junior reserve forward Megumi Barber (San Diego/Mt. Carmel HS) slipped O'Laughlin through with a deft touch from the outside of her right boot. O'Laughlin dribbled several yards closer to the target and was never going to miss, hitting a right-footed shot on the ground which glanced off the inside of the left post and in for 3-0.
Barber, back healthy again after her 2016 season was cut short to just the first 10 matches due to injury, nearly added a remarkable goal to her nifty assist, cracking a right-footed free kick from the right diagonal off the crossbar in the 86th minute.
Redshirt sophomore Angelica Ramos, a second-year Triton, made her major college debut as the starting goalkeeper. The Saddleback College transfer was largely untested and collected two saves. True freshman Natalie Widmer was the only other debutante in the starting 11, in central midfield. Third-year senior transfer Brie Diaz made her first start as the Tritons' center back after previously serving in central midfield. The Temecula product patrolled the back line brilliantly.
In addition to McCarthy, Ramos, Samilo and Widmer, four more Tritons appeared in their first college game in true freshmen Michelle Baddour (San Diego/University City HS), Abby Ross and Delaney Whittet, and redshirt freshman Amanda Erickson. Though Widmer was the lone newcomer in the starting lineup, UCSD completed the contest with six true freshmen on the pitch.
Freshman Brianna Linnell wound up with three saves in her debut in the Point Loma cage as UCSD outshot the Sea Lions, 18-6.
UCSD continues a three-game season-opening homestand this Saturday night, Sept. 2, against 2016 NCAA Championship participant Central Washington, which is garnering votes just outside of the preseason national top 25. Kickoff at Triton Soccer Stadium in La Jolla is slated for just after 7 p.m., following the fourth-ranked UCSD men in their home opener at 5 p.m. Admission is free.
Triton Notes: UC San Diego is now 16-1-1 in season openers in its NCAA Division II era, since 2000, with three straight wins ... Katie O'Laughlin, the 2016 Division II Conference Commissioners Association West Region Player of the Year and California Collegiate Athletic Association Offensive Player of the Year, increased her career goal tally to 29 ... The assists by Megumi Barber and Makenzie Brito on the final tally were the fifth for both players.