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Anteaters rally to remain undefeated

Women's Soccer

Despite controlling the match, UC Irvine needs two second-half goals to post come-from-behind victory against Hawaii.

September 03, 2011|By Barry Faulkner, barry.faulkner@latimes.com

IRVINE — The newly created decorative UC Irvine scarves were flying high, as they do around the world, following a victorious performance by the Anteaters' unbeaten women's soccer team Friday night at Anteater Stadium.

But it was forwards Natalia Ledezma and Lexi Kopf who flew first on the field, to make possible a 2-1, come-from-behind triumph over nonconference visitor Hawaii, that helps set the stage for a monumental road trip next weekend.

Ledezma, a sophomore transfer from UCLA, bolted past a Hawaii defender, then darted around a charging keeper to even the score in the 53rd minute.

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In the 80th minute, it was Ledezma running onto a pass down the left wing from freshman midfielder Cami Privett, then sending a cross toward a streaking Kopf, that resulted in the game-winner.

Kopf, who displays her eye-catching speed with a series of sprints as hopeful as they are relentless most of the time she is on the pitch, broke free down the middle of the box and beat Hawaii goalkeeper Kanani Taaca to the ball about 10 yards in front. Kopf stuck her right leg up and appeared to get a knee on the ball, directing it past Kanani and into the back of the empty net.

The second-half tallies helped the Anteaters (5-0), ranked No. 14 by the Soccer Coaches Assn. of America, erase a 1-0 halftime deficit, despite controlling play most of the opening 45 minutes.

"We gave up a goal that we were disappointed with," UCI Coach Scott Juniper said of a deftly executed combination between Hawaii's Amber Fuller and Tiana Fujimoto that opened the scoring in the 43rd minute.

Fuller and Fujimoto managed to get behind the UCI back line. Fuller took a pass over the top of the defense and headed it to Fujimoto, who drilled it past a helpless UCI goalkeeper Jennifer Randazzo.

Randazzo later made a punch save off the crossbar and senior All-American defender CoCo Goodson made a sliding save after a miscommunication between Randazzo and a UCI defender left a ball rolling toward a seemingly unprotected net.

UCI finished with an 18-7 advantage in shots and had a number of chances that could have made the margin of victory bigger.

"We'd have preferred to dominate the game a little more, but 5-0 is fantastic and we've got a huge test next weekend," Juniper said.

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