The Cal State Northridge women’s soccer team lost to the sixth-ranked UCLA Bruins on Sunday at Matador Soccer Field, despite a strong and improved effort that has the players and coaching staff looking up.
The Bruins got things started at the 28:51 mark of the first half when sophomore defender Lauren Wilmoth’s cross from outside of the box on the right side was put past CSUN sophomore goalie Kellie Drenner by UCLA sophomore forward Lauren Cheney. It was Cheny’s second goal of the season, giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead that they took into halftime.
In the second half, the Matadors were able to get more shots off and give themselves more of an opportunity to tie the game, but the UCLA defense stood their ground. Between missed scoring chances for the Matadors and great saves by UCLA senior goalie Valerie Henderson, the Bruins were able to get possession of the ball long enough to give themselves a 2-0 lead in the 73rd minute. Junior midfielder Caitlyn Mac Kechnie scored the second goal for the Bruins, with an assist by Cheney.
Not long after UCLA took the 2-0 lead, the Bruins struck again, for the third and final time, in the 85th minute of the game. Cheney scored her second goal of the match and was assisted by Mac Kechnie.
With the score at 3-0 in the late stages of the match, the game seemed completely out of reach for the Matadors. But, CSUN showed some of the passion and heart that head coach Keith West has talked about all season and his team continued to fight. In the 87th minute of the game, freshman forward Salma Tarik scored, putting in her second goal of the season.
Drenner was in goal for CSUN for the entire 90 minutes and made six saves. UCLA goalkeeper Henderson saved one during her 55 minutes between the pipes, as did her substitute, senior Ashley Thompson.
Although the Matadors lost, dropping their record to 1-4-1 on the season, West said he thinks the team is finally playing the way he envisioned.
“We are starting to play the way we can play and we’re starting to become a complete team” West said.
The players were also positive about the way the team played and Tarik said she believes it was their best game of the season so far.
“I think we played very well,” said Tarik. “We played the best game we’ve ever played. We’ve been just trying to get the team to play as one big unit together and I think we did that today.”
The Matadors will play their next game at Matador Soccer Field against University of Hawaii on Friday at 3 p.m.
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