NORTHRIDGE, Calif. ---
Natalia Ledezma scored the game-winning goal in the 87th minute to lift the visiting UC Irvine Anteaters past the Cal State Northridge women's soccer team (6-11-1, 1-5-1 Big West) 2-1 Sunday evening in a Big West Conference match at Matador Soccer Field. After falling behind 1-0 in the 23rd, the Matadors momentarily tied the contest in the 85th minute on a goal by Lyndsey Preston.
Sunday's contest represented the final home match for the Matadors four senior student-athletes: Haley Chee, Chloe McDaniel, Amanda Smith and Wendy Warner. The quartet were honored prior to the start of the contest in a ceremony highlighting their accomplishments both on the field and in the classroom.
Once the match started, the teams were even for the first 20 minutes before the Anteaters struck first off a corner kick. Jenna Pellegrino served the ball into the penalty area and after a scrum, Laura McGrail fired home a loose ball for her seventh of the season.
That scoreline would hold through halftime and into the waning moments of the match. Looking for the equalizer, the Matadors pressed forward until they finally broke through in the 85th minute. McDaniel played a ball over the top that Camille Watsontrapped and then slid to Preston, who fired home her second goal of the year.
The assist was McDaniel's second of the season and represented Watson's first career helper.
However, less than three minutes later, Ledezma took a pass from Pellegrino and used her left foot to beat CSUN's Cynthia Tafoya to the far post for the game winner.
In net, Tafoya was credited with just one save but made several plays throughout the second half to keep the Matadors down just one goal. Her counterpart, Corey Tobin, made four saves in victory.
UCI held a 14-7 advantage in shots and had five corner kicks to zero for CSUN. The teams combined for 19 fouls and the Anteaters saw three yellow cards.
With the loss, CSUN is officially eliminated from the Big West Tournament and will miss the event for the first time since 2008.
The Matadors' last game of the 2013 season takes them to Hawai'i to face the Rainbow Wahine on Sunday, Nov. 2. Kick off from Honolulu is slated for 3 p.m. PT/ Noon HT.