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CSUB women's soccer struggles on offense, drops conference opener 2-0 to UC Davis

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Regielly Halldorsdottir lines up a free kick for CSUB in the second half of Thursday night's game. The Roadrunners struggled to put shots on target despite many opportunities from set pieces.

Cal State Bakersfield's defense held firm for about 80 minutes Thursday night.

But the Roadrunners lost track of UC Davis's Leslie Fregoso on two key plays in the first half. The sophomore midfielder made them pay with a run that set up Emma Vane for one goal in the 28th minute, followed by a score of her own on a counterattack in the 38th.

Meanwhile, CSUB struggled to place shots on goal. The Roadrunners were outshot 13-1 in the first half, during which Nicki Rucki did not need to make a single save for the Aggies. Then CSUB came up empty on a slew of corner and free kicks in the second to seal the 2-0 loss in its conference opener.

"I think our services were pretty good today but our runs were not there," CSUB coach Sebastian Vecchio said, "so we just gotta make sure we get on the same page with the servers and the runners."

UC Davis (6-3) entered the match on a three-game winning streak, including a 4-0 win over Idaho State on Sept. 5. CSUB (1-8-1) beat that same Bengals team for its first win Sunday.

At first the two squads seemed evenly matched, with the Roadrunners defense keeping its composure as UC Davis repeatedly brought numbers forward on offense. Both teams struggled to pick out runners on attempted through balls.

So Fregoso made a play on her own in the 27th minute, splitting Kayla Edwards and Chloe Sizemore by ducking under their attempted tackles and setting herself up for an open shot from close range. She curled it wide of the right post. But less than a minute later, she came sprinting back up the right side, and her cross bounced off Sammie Ruelas to the right foot of Vane, whose shot found the back of the net.

"(Fregoso's) just a very active player," Aggies coach Tracy Hamm said. "She tries to get around the ball as much as she can, and it definitely causes defenses some problems keeping track of her."

In the 38th minute, the Roadrunners overextended into Aggies territory, and Fregoso streaked down the left side of the field unmarked to receive a perfect through pass from Risa Yamada past a sliding Sizemore. Fregoso finished to make it 2-0.

"We're just making critical mistakes at the wrong times," Vecchio said.

Sizemore prevented the lead from widening further with a key tackle on Devyn Simmons right before the half, but the Roadrunners would need a serious uptick in offensive production to have a chance of coming back after the break.

They did see some improvement. In particular, CSUB earned plenty of chances from set pieces, with seven Aggie fouls and five corner kicks coming in the second half. Still, few resulted in shots on target.

"We focus a lot on our defensive organization and it showed really well tonight," Hamm said.

Solei Moton and Kaylee Covert were playing off each other well on the left wing early in the half. In the 57th minute Covert, sprinting diagonally across the field, took on seemingly the entire Aggies defense and earned a corner kick for her efforts, but Regielly Halldorsdottir's kick drifted out of bounds.

"Right now we see flashes of a good team, and then we take breaks, and then we start creating again," Vecchio said. "So we have to really be more consistent in our play."

Rucki came up limping in the 79th minute after leaping to block another corner kick and was replaced by Clarissa Grajeda. Covert's shot at Grajeda immediately afterward was too soft and bounced right to the keeper. Then Covert herself got injured several minutes later in the midst of one of the Roadrunners' more promising runs.

CSUB will try to get back on track Thursday at UC San Diego. UC Davis travels to face Cal State Northridge on Sunday.

Reporter Henry Greenstein can be reached at 661-395-7374. Follow him on Twitter: @HenryGreenstein.

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