ARCATA, Calif. - Mary Reilly (Chula Vista/Hilltop HS) headed in a corner kick by Elisa Martinez (El Cajon/Francis Parker School) just 3:40 from the end of the second and final overtime period to give No. 8 University of California San Diego a come-from-behind, 2-1 triumph over Humboldt State in California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) women's soccer action at College Creek Field on Friday.
UC San Diego was merely that three minutes and 40 seconds away from having its remarkable CCAA win streak snapped, but star junior forward Reilly's team-best sixth goal extended that stretch now to 23 consecutive victories in league play. With a ninth straight success, UCSD improved to 12-2 overall and a still-perfect 9-0 in the CCAA. Humboldt State fell to an even 6-6-1 overall and 2-5-1 in league activity.
With potential tiebreakers not being taken into account, the Tritons had probably already clinched a 17th CCAA Tournament berth in their 18 seasons of conference membership, as early as Oct. 6 or even Oct. 4. Friday's win served as good measure, with UCSD also now on the doorstep of assuring itself a first-round bye for the 2017 edition for which it will host the semifinals and finals on Nov. 3 and Nov. 5.
"Well it was not an easy game, to say the least," remarked UC San Diego head coach Brian McManus, now just four wins shy of a milestone 500. "We dominated the stats, but just could not put one away. Overall, it was a good game for us. We had good attitudes and we were really effective with our corners, so it was just that we won the game on a corner. It was a good game to remind us to keep our feet on the ground, and that we have to work for everything."
Humboldt State was first to strike, at the 15:11 mark, as junior Alex Jenkins ran onto a great, long through ball down the right flank and once inside the penalty area, put her shot past Triton goalkeeper Angelica Ramos for her team-leading seventh goal. It marked just the second time that UCSD has trailed in a CCAA contest during this lengthy run. The other instance was another come-from-behind, 2-1 road victory, at Cal Poly Pomona, in the 2016 regular-season finale.
It took the Tritons just under seven minutes to fix that problem. Redshirt sophomore holding central midfielder Natalie Saddic (San Diego/Torrey Pines HS) played the ball forward to Reilly, who sent it further ahead to the top of the box for senior strike partner Katie O'Laughlin (Carlsbad/Pacific Ridge School). O'Laughlin took a touch into the area and was brought down by the defender, with the match official pointing directly to the spot. Saddic stepped up and placed her right-footed penalty kick into the bottom left corner, with Humboldt State goalkeeper Katelin Talbert not moving. It was Saddic's first goal of 2017 and second as a Triton.
UCSD dodged a bullet in the 55th minute as Lindsay Stoner's left-footed shot hit the post. The home side did the same in the waning moments of regulation as Reilly and O'Laughlin both looked to have missed golden opportunities at a winner from close range in the absolute scrum generated by Martinez's left-sided corner kick. Reilly's effort went into the scorebook as having been cleared off the line by a defender for a team save, and O'Laughlin's as banging off the crossbar.
With seconds to go in regulation, Reilly dribbled in from the right and passed off to O'Laughlin, but her right-footer from the top of the box was caught easily by Talbert.
It would ultimately be another left-sided Martinez corner kick that produced the decider, at 106:20. The assist was the second of the year for the senior playmaker.
Ramos, a redshirt sophomore and the reigning CCAA Player of the Week, collected two saves in the UCSD goal. Talbert had 12 for the Jacks.
UCSD outshot Humboldt State 26-9 on the day, including 19-3 after the halftime interval. Reilly and O'Laughlin, who entered the contest 1-2 in the CCAA in shots, led the way with six apiece.
Reilly's goal was the milestone 30th of her career. It marked her third game-winner of 2017 and 11th college decider.
UC San Diego was supposed to remain in Northern California and play at No. 18 Sonoma State on Sunday, but that match was postponed and most likely canceled due to the severe wildfires in the area and the resulting air quality. The Tritons will thus return to La Jolla on Saturday, and have another one-game week ahead, that a non-conference tilt at CCAA foe Cal State San Marcos on Saturday, Oct. 21, at 2 p.m.
Triton Notes: UCSD leads the all-time series 14-1-2, with four straight wins ... The Tritons have won 23 consecutive CCAA contests and 29 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 71-7 scoring advantage in those 29 games, and trailed now in just two ... The Tritons have allowed just two goals during this current nine-game win streak, the first one an own goal at Cal State Dominguez Hills on Sept. 22 ... UCSD head coach Brian McManusis now just four wins shy of 500 for his legendary career ... Angelica Ramos and UCSD's shutout streak was ended at five-plus games and 515:36 ... UCSD eclipsed the 20-shot mark for the sixth time in 2017, achieving a new season high of 26, having previously gained credit for 25 on three occasions ... The Tritons had entered coming off four successive 1-0 wins, with today's match a fifth straight one-goal decision ... They are 8-1 in one-goal games in 2017.