The UC Irvine men’s soccer team played the University of Calgary to a 1-1 tie on Wednesday, May 2 at Anteater Stadium.
The score, however, did not reflect the match. After about 15 minutes of sluggish play from the Anteaters, the team started showing that their success last year was no fluke.
The Anteaters dominated much of the rest of the game, stringing many passes together and setting up many scoring chances. The loss of forwards Brad Evans and Anthony Hamilton, both of whom were selected in the Major League Soccer Draft, really showed as UCI could not find a solid shot on goal.
Head Coach George Kuntz played everyone who was healthy on his roster and switched up the positions to see new things. Despite threading through the Calgary defense many times, the Anteaters either overshot or were too patient with their shots.
UCI’s defense was strong throughout the match, shutting down any Calgary attack especially after the first 15 minutes.
After multiple failed attempts to score the Anteaters finally got a gift. Calgary scored on its own goal after the ball deflected off a Calgary player in the 78th minute to give UCI its only goal of the game. It also gave UCI a 1-0 game with just 12 minutes left in the match.
But UCI was unable to hold on. In the 82nd minute, a 20 yard shot by a Calgary player was going to be easily controlled by senior goalie Eric Reingen. Unfortunately it slipped through his fingers and into the back of the net, tying the game at 1-1.
In the 90th minute, senior Shane Westbrook had a well-timed header off a corner, but it was cradled by the goalie just before the final whistle.
And that was the story of the game as UCI dominated in the field, but was helpless when crashing the nets.
The match concluded a very tough schedule for the Anteaters, which included two MLS teams.
‘Guys like Brandon Foster, Shane Westbrook and Rafael Macedo have been with us for a while and they really stepped up this spring,’ Kuntz said, who was named Big West Coach of the Year last season. ‘We still feel there is room for growth. We’ve played some young guys here, and I think with experience these guys will get much better and their talent will translate onto the field.’
After the spring season, it is clear that offense will be the area where the team most needs work.
‘You saw some young guys play here, and we feel with a little more playing time this experience will be invaluable. In the end, we expect some emphatic punch.’