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Root scores SDSU’s lone goal


Photo courtesy

November 10, 2017 (Los Angeles) - San Diego State dropped a 3-1 decision at second-seeded and fourth-ranked UCLA on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Championship. The loss ends the Aztecs’ season and the Mountain West champions finish with a record of 12-8-2.

SDSU’s defense was stout from the start and it held UCLA (16-2-2) to just one shot in the first 15 minutes of the game. A foul whistled on the Aztecs at the top of the box, however, gave the Bruins an opportunity and they capitalized as Anika Rodriguez scored on a 27-yard free kick in the 16th minute.

San Diego State responded four minutes later when Mia Root took a ball just before the midline and sent a pass to a sprinting Aliyah Utush. The senior split two defenders and attempted a hard-angled shot from 10 yards out that skipped past the far post.

The Bruins kept pressuring offensively, but the Aztec defense came up with an answer each time. On one sequence in the 34th minute, Gabby English made two back-to-back saves from point-blank range. The second stop went back into play and the Bruins went to attempt a third shot, but Root sprawled to make the stop. The score remained unchanged for the rest of the half.

When play resumed, San Diego State was the aggressor, getting an early good look from Root less than a minute in. Five minutes later, Chloe Frisch located Sarah Broacha on the right side of the box and the freshman defender put a shot on target, but was denied by Teagan Micah.

The hosts doubled their advantage in the 54th minute when MacKenzie Cerda sent a cross into the box where Julia Hernandez put her header into the back of the net. Jacey Pederson was also in on the sequence, earning an assist with Cerda.

The Aztecs answered and cut their deficit in half in the 63rd minute. UCLA tried to clear the ball, but San Diego State took the ball away at the top of the box and Root took it from there. The freshman forward took a few dribbles, turned and fired from 18 yards out, putting her shot into the upper right corner. The unassisted goal was her team-best 10th of the season.

Two minutes later, Utush nearly leveled the score with a wicked attempt, but the shot was about six inches too wide. After 19 minutes of action, Root put the Aztecs in a position to score once again, this time crossing a ball to Hailey Balma, who put her header on target, forcing Micah to make the save in the 84th minute.

UCLA added a third goal in the 85th as Cerda found the back of the net to provide the final margin.

San Diego State finished the game with nine shots with six coming on net. Root led the way with three shots, all of which were on target. Utush and Balma added two shots apiece. English, meanwhile, had six saves.