Courtesy of UCR Athletics
Courtesy of UCR Athletics

September 25, 2015

Highlanders 2 – Coyotes 0

The UC Riverside women’s soccer team traveled midwest for the weekend to take on South Dakota University and North Dakota State, looking to recover from three consecutive losses last week. While in the midst of a losing streak, most teams are satisfied with simply pulling out a win, but there is often a greater desire to not only win, but to do so in a definitive enough manner that provides a greater boost of morale in the process.

I’d say the Highlanders fulfilled both measures fairly successfully Friday while shutting out the South Dakota Coyotes in definitive 2-0 fashion. Beyond the final score, the Highlanders also dominated the field of play, managing to double the Coyotes in total shots (16-8), more than triple their total corner kicks (10-3) and remain relentlessly aggressive throughout the match.

The win was a relief for the team and it is likely to restore a bit of the confidence that can often end up missing amongst a wave of losses, but what will emerge as the greater story of Friday’s match, is the ascendence of junior midfielder Sammy Arellano. Arellano was responsible for both of the Highlanders’ two goals of the evening, scoring one in each half with a 100 percent success rate.

Not only did her goals help lead the Highlanders to victory, but they were Arellano’s first two of the season and are already equal to her season total from last year’s campaign.

And just like the victory itself, Arellano’s emergence offers a bit more than just what’s on the surface. Yes, leading the team to the win deserves praise, but there is also the potential she harnesses this momentum and continues to grow as a player with a newfound confidence throughout the season.

Frankly, this wouldn’t be a surprise. While Arellano — a substitute for the majority of her UCR career — hasn’t received ample opportunity on the field, she has made the most of her playing time when given. In 2013, she was a key cog for the Highlanders, finishing second on the team in points, goals and assists, while also receiving a Big West All-Conference Honorable Mention. In 2014, Arellano had a down year statistically, but still earned Big West All-Conference First Team honors from College Sports Madness.

It seemed Friday, that just when the Highlanders were desperate for someone to take charge, Arellano stepped up. As it stands now, Arellano is just two goals away from surpassing her career-high in goals scored and the Highlanders push to an even 5-5 (.500) on the year, remaining firmly in the mix to compete for a conference title come November. If their timing continues to be as perfect as it was in Friday’s match, perhaps both accomplishments can be earned simultaneously.