On Friday, Nov. 2, the UCR women’s soccer team (3-13-1, 1-6) traveled to the coast as they took on UC Santa Barbara (8-4-5, 4-1-2) at Harder Stadium. The match had an abundance of goals, with the Highlanders leveling the match twice. However, Santa Barbara had the last word in the end with a late goal in the 85th minute that secured a 3-2 win for the Gauchos.
UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) emerged from the locker room with a fervent offensive energy. UCSB wasted no time and immediately got on the scoreboard in the eighth minute. Junior forward Isabella Viana displayed poise and won a ball in the final third of the field before quickly beating a pair of Highlander defenders. Viana finished her run with a well placed ball into the far side of the Highlander net.
The Highlanders, however, were adamant about staying in the game. They displayed a similar intensity that resulted in a goal in the 33rd minute. Senior defender Amanda Roy received a through ball from junior midfielder Miah Conde. Roy, working under pressure from the opposition, rapidly kicked a shot past the rival keeper, tying up the game.
The second half of the match saw both teams resurface with a strong determination to take the win away from one another. At the 60th minute, the Highlanders attempted to start a sequence of passes beginning with freshman goalkeeper Caela Kaio. The play was quickly thwarted when the anticipation of freshman Dylan Lewis allowed her to steal the ball from a Highlander defender. Lewis, seeing the Highlander keeper was out of position, lobbed the ball over the keeper from just over 30 yards out and gave the Gauchos their second lead of the night.
However, this momentary lead did not last long. Only two minutes later, Miah Conde appeared once again to feed senior defender Kieren Ritter a fast paced ball at the 62nd minute mark. Ritter found the end of the net with a precise strike and erased the Gauchos’ lead. The goal marked Miah Conde’s second assist of the night.
After the second tie of the match, UCSB changed their game plan and fought for greater possession of the ball. The final 28 minutes saw a dominant performance from the Gauchos.
At the 85th minute, senior forward Shaelan Murison chased after a ball that would have been a Highlander goal kick had it not been for Murison’s speed. Murison recovered the ball, shortly after dishing it off into the box to Viana. Viana held onto it long enough allowing senior midfielder Lynsee Voss make a run into the box and ground a shot just past Kaio’s left foot. Voss’ goal gave the Gauchos their third lead of the night. Only this time, UC Santa Barbara played the final minutes of the match cautiously and kept the lead at home in the end.
With this latest defeat, the Highlanders will close out the season with just one conference win against UC Davis on Oct. 20 for a 25% win percentage. UCR will look to make major tactical adjustments in the coming months as they prepare for the next season.