Wednesday night’s Big West opener was nothing less than thrilling as the UC Irvine men’s soccer team settled for the 1-1 double overtime draw against UC Davis.
The Anteaters crisp passes and brilliant offensive attacks looked promising early on in the match. Sophomore striker Spencer “Freight Train” Thompson managed to break away from the Davis defense in the forth minute of play, only to watch his shot bounce off of the right post.
Unable to capitalize on the opportunities presented to them, UCI suffered a big blow in the 18th minute as Aggies midfielder Paul Marcoux managed to sneak in a one-touch goal around the left post after receiving a well-placed ball from the left side of the pitch.
Confident in their game plan, UCI continued to play a strong offensive and defensive game only to have their world shatter in the 33rd minute.
Defender David Sias received a red card and was sent off the pitch after an irrational and very questionable call made by the center referee.
Simply standing his ground and maintaining his defensive position, Sias was called for knocking over Davis striker Quincy Amarikwa who seemed to deliberately slam himself into the 6-foot-1-inch, 175-pound defender.
“We experienced a similar situation last season,” said Head Coach George Kuntz. “[We] are definitely going to take a look at the tape, and send it to the referee body. There is not much else that we can do.”
Starting the second half with one man down, the ‘Eaters went to a 4-4-1 lineup.
The physical level of the game seemed to escalate on both sides of the field, but luckily this landed UCI a free kick, 6 yards outside the 18-yard box.
Thompson and Matt Murphy took their respected positions behind the ball, each looking for the equalizer.
“Murphy had taken a few free kicks earlier, and [Murphy] offered me the chance to take the shot,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s powerful ball was nestled in the back of the net in the 85th minute after ricocheting off of a Davis defender, taking the game into overtime.
The two overtime periods were riddled with opportunities for both sides. Davis defender Lance Patterson received a red card in the 106th minute, after intentionally striking UCI’s Irving Garcia.
Overall, it was a physical and hard-fought soccer match.
“From a player’s standpoint I was really proud of them,” Kuntz said. “It’s really easy to lose your head in games like these, but they didn’t give up and they didn’t get dirty. They just kept playing soccer.”
#17 UCSB 2 vs. #22 UCI 1
It was a tale of two halves as the UC Irvine men’s soccer team suffered their first loss of the season, losing to UC Santa Barbara’s Gauchos 2-1 Saturday night.
The Anteaters’ high level of intensity provided them with numerous looks on goal to start the match. With merely 11 minutes into the game, forward Spencer Thompson managed to maintain control of the ball as he made a promising run down the right side of the pitch. Drawing three Guacho defenders, Thompson was able to find Carlos Aguilar who dummied the ball to teammate Rafael Macedo who was able to find the back of the net.
“You have to give credit to Spencer and Carlos who were able to draw the attention leaving me open to come in and score the goal,” Macedo said.
The unselfish play of the ‘Eaters was by no means overlooked by the 1,400 spectators who marveled at the spectacular play.
Unable to penetrate the Anteaters’ aggressive defensive in return, Santa Barbara seemed to lack the confidence necessary to capitalize on their offensive attacks.
It was not until a defensively lapse in the 28th minute that Santa Barbara striker Nick Perera found himself in front of an open net after freshman keeper Andrew Fontain was unable to secure the ball near the top of the 18-yard box. Perera’s goal leveled the match at one goal apiece.
The remainder of the half was played near midfield with the only true opportunity coming in the 40th minute, as Gaucho’s Luis Silva almost volleyed in a cross.
Irvine gained an advantage early in the second half after Santa Barbara’s Peter McGlynn received two yellow cards, ultimatley resulting in a red card. Playing with one man down, the Gauchos elevated their sense of urgency and surprisingly managed to take control of the game.
“It was a mental lapse,” said Head Coach George Kuntz. “Because you have that extra man, it makes the team feel like we have the advantage.”
Andrew Fontain was able to keep the Anteaters alive with an impressive eight saves. Unfortunately, this was not enough to stop the goal-hungry Gauchos.
Just as the rain began to fall over Anteater Stadium, Santa Barbara’s Alfonso Motagalvan was able to score off of a corner kick taken by midfielder Danny Barerra in the 83rd minute.
With the clock working against them, Irvine was not unable to put together a strong last ditch effort.
“We lost a little team knowledge, but we can regroup,” Kuntz said. “We are not going to change our game plan; we just have to make a few minor adjustments. I feel confident that our guys will learn a lot from this, and we’ll be better from it.”
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