In an emotionally charged game, the UC Irvine Men’s Soccer team lost 3-2 to the Cal State Northridge Matadors (7-0, Big West 2-0) in a Big West Conference match on Oct. 9 at Anteater Stadium.
Junior midfielder Kit Vitagliano and senior forward Sebastian Galmarini scored for the Anteaters (4-7, Big West 0-2) that night.
The game began with intense play from both sides.
UCI forward Lorne Howlett said, ‘We didn’t play with much enthusiasm in the last game, so we wanted to come out and really let [CSUN] know that we were ready to play.’
In the 11th minute, red cards were handed out to the UCI junior forward Sean Iliff and the Matadors’ Derek Hanks for an altercation in which one player apparently elbowed the other.
The two players involved in the incident were thrown out of the game for the rest of the night.
Although both teams remained scoreless after the first half, CSUN went up 1-0, 51 seconds into the second half after a goal by CSUN sophomore forward Willie Sims.
Asked about the play, UCI Head Coach George Kuntz said, ‘One of our players lost his mark, and Willie slipped in and just tucked it away.’
Galmarini said, ‘We definitely settled into the game as the half went on. We started knocking the ball around, controlling the tempo, but once they scored, that’s when we had to pick it up a notch to get back in the game.’
UCI did just that, answering with a pass from sophomore midfielder Brandon Tario to Vitagliano in the 54th minute to even the score at 1-1. A few minutes later, the Matadors seemed to have scored again, but the goal did not count because the referee had ruled Cal State Northridge off sides before the ball went in.
There were no goals scored for the next 20 minutes, as both teams had shots that went wide and failed to take advantage of corner kicks.
However, Sims went on to score again late in the 79th minute off a penalty kick, putting the Matadors up 2-1.
UCI had a chance to tie the game when sophomore forward Brad Evans was given an indirect free kick. But the wall of CSUN players was able to deflect the shot and Evans missed wide.
CSUN midfielder Yossi Raz scored on a pass from Daniel Paladini in the 84th minute on what turned out to be the game-winning goal for the Matadors.
As time ran out in the 89th minute, Galmarini scored a late goal for UCI, but it was not enough, as Cal State Northridge came away with the win.
‘I thought that we played a little too emotional and let our emotions run the game,’ Galmarini said. ‘We wanted to go in hard, which is good, but we got a red card [early on], and playing a man down doesn’t help.’
Galmarini’s goal came off a pass from Howlett, who felt that the team should have done more in the first half.
‘We could have scored on our early opportunities,’ said Howlett. ‘We had a couple of breakaways that we should have put away, but hit wide.’
Kuntz agreed, saying that it was just a matter of ‘executing a little bit more in front of the goal.’
Senior goalkeeper Cameron Rossi had another solid night for the Anteaters with five saves, including a spectacular stop in the second half to block what would have been another goal by CSUN’s Sims.
‘I’m very proud of the guys,’ Kuntz said. ‘They played very well, and they’ll keep getting better if they continue to play at this level.’
UC Irvine’s next home game will be played in Anteater Stadium this Saturday, Oct. 16, against Cal State Fullerton in a conference match up at 7 p.m.