The UC Irvine Men’s Soccer team competed in their fourth Big West conference match against UC Riverside on Oct. 25 amidst the snowing ash on Anteater Stadium from the recent local wildfires.
UC Irvine (5-8-1, Big West 2-1-1) played a grueling and dramatic double overtime match that saw the Anteaters come away with a 2-1 victory against the Highlanders (6-7-1, 2-3-1).
‘Our guys have been mentally a lot stronger in these situations this year because we have trained for them,’ said Head Coach George Kuntz.
The first and only goal for UC Riverside was scored in the 36th minute of the first half by freshman forward Edgar Alejo off an assist by sophomore midfielder Paulo Vellanoweth.
The Highlanders held a 1-0 lead into the break. In the 86th minute, UCR was given a yellow card for a foul inside their own penalty box. The foul committed on sophomore Anteater forward Sean Iliff awarded UCI a penalty kick. The kick was taken by senior midfielder Anthony Vizcarra who scored, tying the game with a little over three minutes remaining in regulation.
At the end of the second half, the game remained tied 1-1, forcing two 10-minute periods of sudden death overtime. In the third minute of the first overtime period, a UC Riverside player received a red card and the Highlanders would have to play with a man down for the remainder of the match.
The Anteaters had a number of opportunities to score throughout the match, including three in the first overtime period, but these opportunities seemed to be slipping away from UCI faster than pepperoni was slipping off the pizza at the Anteater Stadium snackbar.
‘The grass was wet, the ball was skipping and everyone was having missed touches, and the keeper really read us well when we were shooting,’ Galmarini said.
After a number of missed shots and missed opportunities, Anteater junior forward Sebastian Galmarini knocked in the game winner.
The goal was off a pass by Iliff with 2:30 left in second overtime, giving UCI their second straight win in conference play.
Irvine had a match total of 20 shots on goal, converting two of them. UC Riverside had less than half of that with eight shots.
Galmarini tallied an impressive four shots on goal for the Anteaters, including a bicycle kick that just missed in the 71st minute of play.
In the end, UC Riverside proved a tough match for UC Irvine.
‘I’ve got to give credit to Riverside because they’ve stepped it up this year,’ Kuntz said.
Also commenting on the many missed scoring opportunities for UC Irvine, junior goalkeeper Cameron Rossi said, ‘We did our best tonight with the effort we put out there. It was 100 percent, but sometimes we get unlucky.’
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