The UC Irvine Men’s Soccer team defeated the Cal State Fullerton Titans 2-1 in a Big West Conference match on Oct. 16 at Anteater Stadium.
Senior forward Lorne Howlett and freshman defender Damon Manak scored two goals for the Anteaters in the second half, making them the leaders of the night.
During the first half, CSUF, with its aggressive offense, scored the game’s first goal at the 16:11 mark by Ben Hofstetter.
Although UCI maintained a strong defense, its team members were not able to communicate successfully during their offensive plays. Players seemed hesitant to take shots at the goal.
Even when they did have a chance to score, players could not get any assistance from other teammates.
Sophomore forward Brad Evans, who attempted to score numerous times but missed during the first half, said, ‘I thought I did all right. My shots were off-target, though.’
Moreover, at 36:23, UCI’s junior midfielder Kit Vitagliano was injured and replaced with freshman midfielder Andrew Elliot.
Vitagliano’s injury was caused by a preexisting condition from a game in Chicago earlier this season.
Vitagliano took six games off after the injury in Chicago and was hoping to come back and play again during the game against CSUF.
Whether Vitagliano comes back for the next game depends on ‘the doctor’s exam as well as his recovering condition,’ explained UCI Head Coach George Kuntz.
However, UCI was able to turn the game around during the second half.
The team maintained its strong defense from the previous half and improved the communication between the players.
‘We had a different formation during the second half,’ Kuntz said. ‘Better organization and communication. The team reacted to it well.’
Sophomore midfielder Brandon Tario passed a corner kick to sophomore Brad Evans who then tried to send it toward the net.
After a series of passes between the team members, senior Lorne Howlett finally managed to send the ball past the keeper, at 62:23, tying the game at 1-1.
After the first goal, the Anteaters were energized and played their offense with much more confidence.
Manak was taken out of the game at 55:59 due to a minor cramp, but managed to come back into the game and scored his first career goal. Manak scored the game-winning goal for the Anteaters off of a corner kick by sophomore midfielder Doug Franco at 80:48.
‘I believed that if we battle hard, we were bound to win. Today was the day,’ said Manak.
After the second goal, UCI managed to sustain its defense until the last minute, winning its first victory of the conference. The team celebrated their winning with the audience’s cheer.
‘Fantastic! I am very proud of them tonight,’ exclaimed Kuntz. ‘It was a team effort. We played everybody besides the other goalkeeper tonight. Six of the players were freshmen so they did exceptionally well.’