Irvine keeps Gaucho women winless in conference play

IRVINE  – Freshman forward Angelisa Cortez rebounded after three weeks on the shelf with a sprained ankle to score a goal and give UCSB a 1-0 lead, but the Gauchos couldn’t hold on to a 1-0 lead and dropped a 3-1 match at UC Irvine on Sunday afternoon in Irvine.

The Gauchos (3-9-2, 0-3-1), got on the board first when Cortez received a pass from sophomore Kelly McGrath and chipped a lob-shot over Anteater goalkeeper Jennifer Randazzo. The score was the second of the season for Cortez.

UCI (7-8-0, 3-1-0) bounced back strong. In the 24th minute, Mar Rodriguez collected a failed clearing attempt and fed Laura McGrail. She took a dribble and whipped around for a quick, cross-cage strike into the upper right to tie the match up.

Irvine pushed the issue in the second half. Natalia Ledezma did some fancy footwork and the ball was at her feet as she flanked down the left wing. Gaucho keeper Makenna Henry jumped on the floating cross and swatted it, but it fell right to McGrail in the box who punched it inside the left post to take the lead, 2-1, in the 47th minute.

The rest of the half saw a spike in the physicality culminating in a foul in the box by the Gauchos leading to a Rachel Wood penalty kick strike in the 83rd minute to stretch the lead to 3-1.

UCSB will return to the pitch on Friday when it hosts Hawai’i in a 7:00 p.m. match at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium. The contest will be the first between the schools as Big West Conference opponents.

The Gauchos will play their final home match of the 2012 campaign when they host Cal State Northridge at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 14.