The CSUN women’s soccer team nearly played the fourth-ranked team in the nation to a scoreless tie on Sept. 15, but UCLA snuck one by in the second half to win the match 1-0.
The Matadors produced their lowest shot output of the season, as they were outshot 18-4 in the game. But that didn’t tell the whole story.
Forwards Kristy Krohn and Tessa Binkley both had great scoring opportunities within the first 10 minutes of the match.
The CSUN back line and midfielder Susie Mischenko stifled a potent UCLA offense, which had scored five goals in its last two games against nationally-ranked opponents Texas A’M and Connecticut. Goalkeeper Kellie Drenner did her best impression of a brick wall, making three saves in the first stanza.
With the loss the Matadors drop to 4-4-0 on the season.
UCLA was able to break through, however, in the 63rd minute of the second half when Bruin defender Lauren Wilmoth played a long ball into the penalty box that was unsuccessfully cleared by Drenner. The ball bounced off Drenner and into the possession of UCLA midfielder Lauren Cheney, who buried it into the back of the net from six yards out.
“It was an unlucky break,” head coach Keith West said. “(Drenner) played phenomenal. She just got caught outside the box.”
The Bruins have rotated their starting squad throughout the early part of the season. Cheney has made appearances in the last three games for the Bruins and has managed to score in all three games with two of the games against top-10 ranked teams.
The Matadors missed a golden opportunity late in the game.
In the final minute, Mischenko headed a ball off a midfielder Devon Nizich corner kick that flew right into the arms of UCLA goalkeeper Valerie Henderson.
The loss was a dramatic improvement from the last time CSUN met the Bruins. During the 2002 season, the Matadors were dismantled by UCLA 4-0.
The competitiveness of Friday’s game is cause for optimism among the team.
“We hung in there with them the whole game,” Drenner said. “The loss sucks, but we lost to a great team.”
The win is the sixth in a row for UCLA, 6-1-0, who hasn’t lost a game since Aug. 25 at Penn State. Cheney’s goal was her third of the season.
“They’re the fourth-ranked team in the nation for a reason,” said West.
The team has shown flashes of brilliance, but has failed to maintain their intensity. On three different occasions this season, they have followed up an impressive win with a disappointing loss. They haven’t yet managed to win two games in the same week.
The Matadors travel to Honolulu on Saturday to compete in the Ohana Hotels and Resorts Soccer Invitational, where they will face Hawaii and Detroit.
“It’s a fun place to go,” West said. “But we’re not as concerned with having fun. We want to come up with two wins.”