LA JOLLA, Calif. - Seventh-ranked University of California San Diego tallied an early goal off the head of senior All-American Katie O'Laughlin (Carlsbad/Pacific Ridge School) and went on to top Cal State San Marcos, 1-0, in an important midweek California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) women's soccer clash between city rivals Wednesday at Triton Soccer Stadium.
A seventh victory on the trot moved first-place UC San Diego to 10-2 overall and 7-0 in the CCAA. With the entire rest of the conference idle on Wednesday, the Tritons have now steered eight points clear of the nearest challenger to their 2016 regular-season title defense. Cal State San Marcos fell to 6-5 overall and 4-3 in league play.
At just the 3:43 mark, junior winger Summer Bales' right-sided corner kick was headed at the far post by O'Laughlin, with the ball perhaps taking a deflection on its way across the goalmouth and into the netting on the opposite end, but the goal ultimately being credited to the Triton star. It was her fifth, pulling her even with junior strike partner Mary Reilly (Chula Vista/Hilltop HS) for the team lead. Bales' assist was her team-best fourth.
Redshirt sophomore Angelica Ramos made four saves in the UCSD net for an eighth individual clean sheet, fourth in succession, and sixth in seven games. Yesenia Betancourt, a Carlsbad product (Carlsbad HS) making her first collegiate start in the absence of sophomore Bailey Cockrill, impressed greatly and had seven stops for the Cougars. Cockrill was forced to sit the match out due to suspension, having been shown a red card in overtime of CSUSM's home game last Sunday.
The visitors came close to equalizing in the ninth off the left foot of senior forward Meghan Randig, whose ambitious attempt from 25 yards sailed just high.
The Tritons nearly doubled their advantage in the 12th minute, as O'Laughlin sent Reilly in on goal with a killer through ball, but Betancourt was up to the task to deny the solid right-footed shot from the right diagonal. Less than four minutes later, it was freshman Natalie Widmer providing the feed, before Reilly sent a looping, right-footed shot from the left flank that looked like it was headed toward the upper right corner, only to come down in Betancourt's arms.
In the 38th, junior forward Megumi Barber (San Diego/Mt. Carmel HS) hit the crossbar with her free kick. The ball bounded out, and senior Aimee Ellis eventually crossed it back in from her right back spot. Redshirt sophomore holding central midfielder Natalie Saddic (San Diego/Torrey Pines HS) got a great header on it, but to her credit, Betancourt went down to her right to make a spectacular save.
Reilly laid claim to one final chance at a clincher, with a touch more than six minutes to go. Her left-footer from outside of the penalty area was again turned away with aplomb by Betancourt. UCSD held the final shot tally, 14-11. Reilly had six of them.
Much like another 1-0 home win back on Sept. 17, over Stanislaus State, this one had a tempered enthusiasm at the final whistle, as winger Jordyn McNutt (San Diego/University City HS) had to depart in the 26th minute. Fellow fourth-year senior and team tri-captain Makenzie Brito had suffered a serious injury around the same south goal, in that Sept. 17 contest, the lone goal there courtesy of McNutt.
UC San Diego wraps up a season-long four-game homestand, as well as the home portion of its 2017 regular season already, this Friday, Oct. 6, welcoming in SF State on Senior Night. Kickoff is slated for just after 7 p.m., after the first-place Triton men take on the Gators at 4:30 p.m., and seven outstanding seniors are recognized. Admission is free into Triton Soccer Stadium on North Campus in La Jolla.
Triton Notes: The Tritons have won 21 consecutive CCAA contests and 27 in a row against CCAA opposition in all competitions (CCAA Tournament and non-conference), since a 1-0 loss at Sonoma State on Oct. 18, 2015 ... UCSD has held a 68-6 scoring advantage in those 27 games, and trailed in just one ... The Tritons have allowed just one goal during this current seven-game win streak, and that was an own goal at Cal State Dominguez Hills on Sept. 22 ... UCSD is a perfect 8-0 at home in 2017 ... UCSD head coach Brian McManus is now just six wins shy of 500 for his legendary career ... Katie O'Laughlin had gone five games without a goal, her longest such stretch since the start of her 2015 season, having last scored against Chico State back on Sept. 15 ... All five of O'Laughlin's goals in 2017 have come at home, and she now has 33 career goals and 11 game-winners ... Angelica Ramos and UCSD's shutout streak has stretched to four-plus games and 410:25.