The UC Irvine Men’s Soccer team lost a heartbreaking game against the UCLA Bruins, 1-0, on Oct. 30 at Anteater Stadium.
The Anteaters went into the match playing against a UCLA (10-2-2) team who holds the fourth overall ranking in the nation.
Playing against such a highly ranked foe gave some of the UCI players the jitters early on, as a defensive gaffe just 1:09 into the game proved to be the difference.
UCI Head Coach George Kuntz said after the match, ‘Our guys looked a little nervous in the beginning … a little bit of hesitation.’
This bit of hesitation was all that the Bruins needed in this very hard-fought and intense game.
Kuntz bellowed to his team, ‘You have got to play 90 minutes and not 89.’
This match showed what one-minute of hesitation can cost you in the long run.
Fans had barely enough time to enter the Stadium before UCLA was up on the board.
Patrons who showed up a few minutes late missed all the scoring for the night.
The Bruins’ lone goal was scored on a cross from Marvell Wynne to fellow teammate Chad Barrett.
The game would go scoreless for the remaining 88:51 minutes, as neither UCI nor UCLA was able to score.
UCI senior goalkeeper Cameron Rossi had six amazing saves for the night, which really helped keep the Anteaters in this match.
Rossi’s tremendous saves helped stop UCLA from making any more goals that could have easily made it a far more lopsided game.
Coming in the 48th and 49th minutes of the match, Rossi had three straight stops in which he had almost identical one-on-one situations where he rushed out of the net to make the stop or deflection.
On each play Rossi came out aggressively as he threw his body at the feet of the oncoming UCLA player to make the stop.
Fans in attendance were treated with a very impressive and professional showing from Rossi.
The Anteaters’ offense was only able to muster up two shots against a very stout UCLA defense, giving Rossi little help.
Two shots are not enough if the men’s soccer team hopes to salvage this season and make the Big West Tournament.
UCI is looking to improve on this department further down the season.
The match was littered with uncalled holds and pushes, almost entirely coming in the form of UCLA holding and pushing UCI players. Players’ jerseys and limbs were torn asunder.
Pushing was evident on the field and UCI fans seemed dismayed by the type of play going on in the game.
The referees continued to neglect much of the pushing as it persisted for the entire night.
UCLA and UCI picked up two cautions and ejections apiece.
Some fans were overheard grumbling almost the whole match about what a poor job the referees were doing.
The loss moves the Anteaters to 6-9-0 for the season.
They currently rest in fourth place in the Big West with a conference record of 2-3-0.
However, last week’s shut-out win against the then second-ranked and Big West favorite UC Santa Barbara (5-2-0) gives the UCI players and supporters hope that they may still salvage a Big West Tournament invitation.
The 1,230 in attendance were treated to a ‘meet the players’ and autograph session at the end of the game.
UCI will next face Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Wednesday, Nov. 3 at Anteater Stadium.
Both UCI and UCLA had nine shots apiece. UCI sophomore Brad Evans attempted the most shots with four.
UCI had two corner kicks for the night in the first half while UCLA only had one. Bruin goalkeeper Eric Reed had two saves for the night to earn him a shutout win. This was a non-conference game.
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