LA JOLLA, Calif. - The ninth-ranked University of California San Diego women's soccer team saw three area products account for the goals in a 3-0 shutout victory over Concordia Irvine at Triton Soccer Stadium on Tuesday night.
Caitlin McCarthy (Carlsbad HS) notched the first-half tally that proved to be the game-winner, with fellow Carlsbad native Katie O'Laughlin (Pacific Ridge School) finally putting the result out of doubt with just over four minutes to play. Megumi Barber (Mt. Carmel HS) added the cherry on top through an exquisite strike.
In rounding out a season-opening three-match homestand, UC San Diego remained perfect at 3-0. Concordia was left searching for its first win, at 0-2-1, as well as its first goal of the new campaign. It was just the second meeting all-time between the programs, the Tritons having posted a come-from-behind 2-1 overtime victory, also in La Jolla, in the 2015 season opener.
For McCarthy, a true freshman playing in just her third college game, the goal at 33:44 marked the first of her career. It came over half an hour into an evenly-contested first period. She picked up a loose ball down the left blank, and unfurled a left-footed effort from about 25 yards that Concordia goalkeeper Darby Clements actually got her hands to. The 5-foot-5 senior from San Diego (Westview HS) just wasn't able to parry the ball, however, as it continued into the upper right corner.
Both teams generated several chances around that goal, enough to extend the drama into the final five minutes, but at 85:54, UCSD's dynamic duo of O'Laughlin and strike partner Mary Reilly (Chula Vista/Hilltop HS) teamed up to steady any nerves. Reilly got free on the right side and passed to O'Laughlin over on the left. The senior All-American, who had earlier in the day been chosen as the season's first California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Player of the Week, had the entire frame to shoot at and picked her spot, high and to the right.
With under a minute left to play, nice combination work down the left side by freshman winger Delaney Whittet and senior left back Aimee Ellis put the ball at Barber's feet. The junior took a touch and scored an absolutely brilliant right-footed goal from the left edge of the penalty area, also into the upper right corner. It was clearly an emotional goal for Barber, her first since Oct. 23, 2015, as she was forced to miss the final 12 games of the 2016 season through injury. Whittet was credited with her first collegiate point by virtue of the assist. It was also Ellis' first of the year.
Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Angelica Ramos finished with a season-high five saves for UCSD, earning her second individual shutout already of 2017. The Tritons held only a slim advantage in shots taken, 16-14.
Concordia tested Ramos from distance a couple of times ahead of McCarthy's opener in the first half, with Makenzie Brito doing the same for UCSD in the 21st minute, the senior right back's attempt grazing the crossbar. Reilly had a great chance to double the Triton lead 10 minutes into the second, reaching a through ball by freshman central midfielder Natalie Widmer but sending her shot just wide of the right post.
Eagle freshman Marianna Maldonado then nearly equalized in the 58th, with her ambitious right-footed effort from deep smacking off the crossbar and away. Seconds later, Ramos was called upon to tip another Maldonado shot over her bar for a Concordia corner kick.
UCSD flies to Denver, Colo., on Wednesday morning to face the two teams favored to place at the very top of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) in 2016 national quarterfinalist Colorado School of Mines on Friday night, Sept. 8, and Regis on Sunday, Sept. 10.