The UC Irvine Men’s Soccer team lost against the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Mustangs, 2-1, on Nov. 3 at Anteater Stadium.
With several consecutive and exceptionally executed plays that kept the crowd engaged, the Anteaters dominated the field during the entire first half.
Efforts to score seemed to multiply, as the UCI team took 12 impassioned shots at the goal.
The fuel behind the fire, however, did not suffice as each ball failed to meet its target.
UCI sophomore forward Brad Evans made five attempts at the goal.
Even though they failed to go in, it did demand notice from the Cal Poly team.
UCI appeared to run faster and play stronger on the field than Cal Poly.
Evans seemed almost invincible, as he escorted several balls past Cal Poly defenses with footwork and breakaways that puzzled both teams.
‘I’m proud of the work ethic of the players,’ UCI Head Coach George Kuntz said about the team’s performance for the night.
UCI’s defense and midfield pushed forward, managing to reduce the Mustangs’ opportunities to score a goal.
Freshman defender Brandon Foster, junior midfielder Chris Klotz and sophomore defender Cameron Dunn held the back and delivered the ball to UCI in hopes of taking the first goal.
After a long and scoreless first half, both the Anteaters and the Mustangs had six fouls each.
Early in the second half, junior midfielder Kit Vitagliano wove the ball through the Mustangs offense with a finish that broke the evening’s scoreless game at the 57:54 mark.
The field tensed up immediately following UCI’s goal as Cal Poly’s freshman midfielder Nikhil Erlebach scored one for the Mustangs at 67:09 in a frenzied moment against UCI’s senior goalkeeper Cameron Rossi.
Soon the Mustangs scored again with an unassisted goal from freshman midfielder Matthew Robinson.
UCI continued to it’s efforts to score another goal, but were unable to do so after they made eight total shots on goal for the second half.
UCI also had four close corner kicks for the game that nearly scored.
‘It is unusual,’ Kuntz commented about the players’ uncharacteristic misses in the game.
The Anteaters would not let the Mustangs win this game so easily without putting in a lot of effort. Senior forward Lorne Howlett, Klotz and Vitagliano kept the right side of the field active and exhausted Cal Poly’s defenses.
UCI’s junior defender Daniel Marshall and freshman forward Rudy Mondragon supported the centerfield while jaw-dropping plays from Evans and sophomore midfielder Brandon Tario.
Attitudes that reflected both teams’ frustrations surfaced in fouls as UCI picked up eight of their own and Cal Poly received six.
Following the game against UCLA a few nights before, the UCI men’s team proved to be ready for the Cal Poly Mustangs.
Unfortunately, such work from the players did not earn them a win, bringing them to 6-10-0 standing in the Big West.
The players displayed a camaraderie on the field, with tight passes down the sides and center.
The communication in the back echoed with each successive order from Rossi.
Kuntz expressed that ‘we need to be able to execute goal scoring’ and added ‘it’s great that the team created shot opportunities for ourselves,’ because of the situation they were in for the night.
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