The UC Irvine Men’s Soccer team is in a groove right now. They can do no wrong and are in every single game that they play 100 percent. The team is playing good competitive ball, which is why they are ranked twenty-third in the nation. They improved their record to 6-2 overall with a win against Princeton in San Diego on September 25.
UC Irvine was able to pull off a 2-1 victory on last Friday afternoon against the Princeton Tigers. The game was part of the Nike Aztec Soccer Classic at the San Diego State University Sports Deck. The loss dropped Princeton to 4-2 on the year. The win was UC Irvine’s second consecutive winning and third win in their last four contests.
Devin Muntz took a free kick for the Tigers in the thirtieth minute and it was headed in by Josh Walburn to give Princeton a 1-0 lead. The Anteaters were shut out for the first half of the game, but got their offense going in the second half. Freshman Jonathan Prieto tied the match up at 1-1 from 15 yards out off a through ball from senior Irving Garcia in the sixty-first minute. Seven minutes later, junior Spencer Thompson crossed a ball from the right side to senior Kevin Santora who finished it into the right corner to give UCI a 2-1 lead.
Santora’s goal proved to be the game winner as both teams failed to score another goal for the rest of the match. Irving Garcia recorded two assists in the game, and Spencer Thompson had the other assist for the Anteaters. The goal by Jonathan Prieto was his second of the year while the game winner by Santora was his first of the year. Sophomore goal keeper, Andrew Fontein, had three saves and earned his sixth win of the year. Princeton’s goal keeper, Sean Lynch, made five saves in a losing cause.
UC Irvine has scored an average of 1.75 goals a game and has limited its opponents to an average of one goal a game. UCI has averaged 15.2 shots a game. The Anteaters have almost twice as many shots on goal than their opponents and have outscored opponents in every period. Amani Walker leads the team in goals scored and points. Carlos Aguilar leads the team in assists with three. Andrew Fontein has four shutouts on the year and a .765 save percentage.
The match against Princeton signaled an end for preseason play for the Anteaters. UC Irvine opened Big West Conference play against seventh ranked UC Santa Barbara at Harder Stadium in Santa Barbara.
UCSB forward Waid Ibrahim scored the only goal of the game as the No. 7 Gauchos won 1-0.
The game was evenly matched throughout, but UCSB was awarded a penalty kick in the 21st minute, which was converted by Ibrahim. Neither team had a shot on goal before the penalty kick.
The ‘Eaters actually led the Gauchos with 10 shots compared to 8, including 5 shots on goal compared to 4 shots on goal. Junior goalie Victor Chinchilla got the start and made 3 saves, all in the first half, in his first career appearance in net for UCI.
The Anteaters really turned on the intensity in the second half, as they had several great scoring chances. In the 53rd minute, Santora beat his defender but shot just wide right. Shortly thereafter, freshmen midfielder Jonathan Prieto was robbed on an open look by UCSB goalie Sam Hayden.
Towards the end of the game, UCI once again rallied in bunches, as junior forward Spencer Thompson broke away from the Gaucho defense in the 80th minute. Going in one-on-one against Hayden, Thompson’s shot sailed to the right of the cage.
Finally, senior forward Carlos Aguilar had a good shot in the 83rd minute that was foiled by a diving Hayden, his most spectacular save of the night. UCSB would then hang on to take the win.
The defending Big West Champion ‘Eaters are now 6-3 (0-1).
Next up, UCI returns home to face UC Davis at Anteater Stadium on Wednesday, the 30th.
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