FULLERTON, Calif. – Cal State Fullerton's Casey Volk had a goal and an assist as the Titans handed No. 18 UNCG its first loss of the season in the final game of the Under Armour Invitational on Sunday.
The Spartans (3-1-1) took twice as many shots as Cal State Fullerton – outshooting the Titans 16-8 – but Fullerton (2-2-0) made the most of its few chances.
After a scoreless first half, Volk got Fullerton on the board in the 47th minute, nodding home a Caitlin Mellano cross far post for the first goal against the Spartans in 253:56, spanning four games.
Finding itself trailing for the first time on the season, UNCG fell further behind in the 59th minute on Christina Murillo's close-range blast. Volk got the play started, running down a ball just before it crossed the end line and saving it back toward the goal. Kishi Smith headed the ball on to Murillo, who buried it near post from just a few yards out to make it a 2-0 affair.
UNCG had the run of play in the first half, but ran into some tough luck. Jenn Partenheimer put a nice left-footed shot on frame just four minutes into the game, forcing a Jordan-Michelle Santos save. Santos was unable to corral the ball, but it squirted harmlessly away and was cleared by Geminesse Martinez before another UNCG player could pounce on it.
Partenheimer had another nice scoring chance shortly after that, but her 30-yard attempt smacked off the crossbar in the sixth minute. Jaimey Etten's free kick from about the same spot was just high in the 34th minute, and sophomore Jessi Gulledge smoked a long-range shot just before halftime that also found the crossbar.
The Spartans continued to create nice chances in the second half, but just couldn't punch one in.
Tabitha Padgett's attempt from the left corner of the 18-yard box was saved near post just before Murillo's strike. Cat Barnekow had a pair of good opportunities late, but put both just wide. She appeared to have Santos beaten in the 61st minute, but her chip attempt was just wide left. Her shot in the 88th forced Santos to lay out to her left, but Barnekow's shot went wide right.
"We're disappointed because it's a game that we like to think we should have won," UNCG coach Eddie Radwanski said. "But, we had a number of chances in the first half, whether we hit the crossbar or just couldn't put away, and if you do that, and you allow a team to hang around, they're going to get their opportunities. Credit to Fullerton, they hung in there and got two opportunities in a short period of time in the second half, and they were able to capitalize on them.
"I just felt the difference in the game was, if we put even just one of those chances in in the first half, it's a completely different game. On the road, you just need to get those breaks and take advantage of those opportunities, and unfortunately, we weren't able to do so, and we paid the price for it."
Partenheimer had a game-high six shots, with three of them on frame. Smith led Fullerton with two shots.
UNCG keeper Kelsey Kearney allowed two goals and made two saves. Santos made six stops and posted her first shutout of the season.
Kearney, Padgett and Barnekow were named to the Under Armour Invitational's all-tournament team.
Taking the field as a ranked team for the first time since 1998, the Spartans went 0-1-1 at the Under Armour Invitational after playing to a scoreless draw with 2007 NCAA champion Southern Cal on Friday.
Despite the loss, UNCG is still off to one of the best starts in school history. The year's Spartans are now one of just six squads in UNCG lore to have just one loss through their first five contests.
Sunday's contest wrapped up a season-long four-game road swing for the Spartans. UNCG is back in action on Friday, when it returns to UNCG Soccer Stadium for the first time since the season-opener on Aug. 20. The Spartans will battle the Charlotte 49ers at 7 p.m. Admission is free.
Under Armour Invitational All-Tournament Team
(selected by the coaches)
Jordan-Michelle Santos, GK - Cal State Fullerton
Brisa Gonzalez, F - Cal State Fullerton
Casey Volk, MF - Cal State Fullerton
Tabitha Padgett, F - UNCG
Kelsey Kearney, GK - UNCG
Cat Barnekow, D - UNCG
Lauren Montenegro, MF - Purdue
Liz Secue, D - Purdue
Carianne Betts, GK - Purdue
Karter Haug, D - USC
Alyssa Davila, MF - USC
Carly Butcher, MF - USC
Megan Ohai, MF/F - USC
Cal State Fullerton 2, No. 18 UNCG 0
Goals by period 1
UNCG................ 0 0 - 0
Cal State Fullerton. 0 2 - 2
1. 46:49 CSF Volk, Casey (1) (Mellano, Caitlin) - cross from left, headed in left side
2. 58:09 CSF Murillo, Christina (2) (Volk, Casey;Smith, Kishi) - toed into box, headed back, Murillo to left side
Shots: UNCG 16, Cal State Fullerton 8
Saves: UNCG 2 (Kelsey Kearney 2), Cal State Fullerton 6 (Santos, Jordan 6)
Corner kicks: UNCG 5, Cal State Fullerton 4
Fouls: UNCG 7, Cal State Fullerton 8
- UNCG -