It was a frustrating evening for the Anteaters Wednesday night as the men’s soccer team settled for the scoreless double-overtime draw against the Cal State Northridge Matadors.
Although UC Irvine was handed its first shut-out of the season, it was a well-played soccer match on both sides of the pitch.
Both teams had a difficult time finding their way into the match, but it was UCI’s Spencer Thompson and Irving Garcia who were able to create opportunities early on.
Thompson found himself in a promising position in the 20th minute of play as he executed a beautiful two-touch spin around a Matador defender. Unfortunately his low, powerful ball from just outside the 18 sailed wide of the right post.
Garcia’s fancy footwork opened up the Northridge defense and provided him with a shot on goal, which resulted in nothing more than a CSUN goal kick, just under the 30-minute mark.
As the halftime whistle blew, the Anteaters knew that they needed to modify their game plan and find a way to put some points on the board.
“I told the guys to take more shots because guys were pulling out of taking shots. It’s like that old saying, that 100 percent of shots never taken never go in,” said Head Coach George Kuntz.
The Matadors were able to put together an offensive attack in the 50th minute, but the brilliant goalkeeping performance by Andrew Fontein kept the Northridge strikers in check.
The Anteaters maintained the tempo of the match for the remainder of the half, largely in part to the outstanding defensive and offensive efforts of senior defender David Sias. Despite the fact that Sias almost snuck in a header in the 53rd minute of play, he was not pleased with the outcome of the match.
“This is not a good result for us, and we are not happy with it. This is our home field, and we need to get three points at home. That’s just what you got to do,” Sias said.
UCI’s Rafael Macedo showed off his range as he blasted a strong ball toward goal in the 82nd minute. Similar to shots taken earlier in the match, Macedo’s ball traveled inches outside the left post.
Pushing most of their players forward in the 85th minute, UCI looked to capitalize on a corner kick opportunity. The Matadors recognized that the defenders were off their line and put together a three-on-two counter attack. Fortunately for the ‘Eaters, Sias poked away the ball before Northridge could get a shot off.
The two overtime periods produced similar results as the two previous halves. Spencer Thompson earned a few free kicks in prime locations, but they simply could not finish.
Northridge goalkeeper Kevin Guppy had a great game with nine saves. In total, the Anteaters took 22 shots on goal, four of which came in the overtime periods.
“This was a really good soccer game. Both teams possessed pretty well, and both teams had technical players. It’s a great show for our league when we see great soccer like this, I would just like to see some goals,” Kuntz said.
UCI will have some tough matches on the road against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and UC Davis next week. They will return home on Oct. 29th to face Cal State Fullerton.