LA JOLLA, Calif. - The 19th-ranked University of California San Diego women's soccer team rebounded from a rare blip on the radar to roll past Chico State, 3-0, in the 2017 California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) opener for both sides Friday night at Triton Soccer Stadium.
With the victory, UC San Diego improved to 4-2 overall and 1-0 in the CCAA. Chico State fell to 3-2 overall and 0-1 in league play. The Tritons were shut out in back-to-back losses in Colorado last weekend, while the Wildcats had won three straight since a season-opening defeat at Seattle Pacific.
The Tritons trotted out to a 2-0 lead at the halftime break on the strength of well-struck goals by freshman Caitlin McCarthy (Carlsbad/Carlsbad HS) and junior Mary Reilly (Chula Vista/Hilltop HS). McCarthy's was from about 25 yards out with her left foot in the 29th minute, with Reilly's a right-footed blast from inside the area less than three minutes later at 31:12. It was the second goal on the season for both.
Senior All-American Katie O'Laughlin (Carlsbad/Pacific Ridge School) clinched the result in the 51st with her team-leading fourth.
Redshirt sophomore Angelica Ramos had four saves for UCSD to earn her third individual clean sheet in six games. Freshman Claire Abele had four stops for the Wildcats. UCSD held an 18-11 shot advantage with nine in each period.
Buoyed by a strong week of practice on the heels of the Rocky Mountain disappointment, the Tritons came out firing with three shots over the first five minutes. Senior winger Jordyn McNutt went inches wide of the left post among them. Senior right back Makenzie Brito then banged her long-distance effort off the crossbar in the 16th. In the 20th, redshirt sophomore central midfielder Natalie Saddic (San Diego/Torrey Pines HS) had her left-footed blast from around 25 yards tipped off the crossbar and out for a corner kick by Abele.
The hosts finally broke through at 28:34 as McCarthy intercepted the ball and let loose. Abele tipped that one up against the bar as well, but this time it came back down and was nudged all the way across the line by the Wildcat goalie. The score went into the official book for McCarthy, unassisted. Her first collegiate strike came from almost the exact same spot, also to open the scoring around the half-hour mark of another 3-0 triumph on Tuesday night, Sept. 5, against Concordia Irvine.
Moments later, O'Laughlin and a Chico State defender converged on a 50-50 challenge, which the Triton forward won. The ball squirted over to Reilly, who was right on target as the dynamic duo combined for the third time this season, and O'Laughlin was awarded her second assist for 2017.
Shortly after the second-half whistle, McNutt sent a cross over from left to right. It barely eluded Saddic toward the far post. Abele came out and made contact, but was unable to either catch or parry it far enough, with O'Laughlin in the right place at the right time to make her pay. McNutt's assist was her second this year.
UCSD next plays host to rival Stanislaus State this Sunday, Sept. 17, at 2 p.m. Parking and admission are free at Triton Soccer Stadium on North Campus in La Jolla.
Triton Notes: UCSD is 10-8 in CCAA openers ... The Tritons have won 15 consecutive CCAA contests and 21 in a row against CCAA opposition, since a 1-0 loss at Sonoma State on Oct. 18, 2015 ... UCSD has held a 59-5 scoring advantage in those 21 games, and trailed at all in just one ... UCSD is an unbeaten 6-0-3 over the last nine regular-season matchups with Chico State ... Jordyn McNutt remains sixth all-time in program history now with 31 career assists, eight shy of tying the UCSD record ... Katie O'Laughlin and Mary Reilly have 32 and 26 career goals, respectively ... Alexis Kirson, a true freshman out of Las Vegas, Nev., made her college debut, coming on at forward for the final 19:26, and was credited with her first shot.