UC Irvine men’s soccer catalyst Matt Murphy salvaged Saturday night’s matchup with his last second heroics.
After snapping its six-game winless streak against Cal State Fullerton, the UC Irvine men’s soccer team (6-3-4, 1-2-2) hosted the Cal Poly Mustangs (9-1-2, 4-0-2) in Big West play on Saturday.
The Anteaters had played Cal Poly just 10 days ago in a tough loss in which they gave up the lead. UCI was 2-0 the entire match, until Cal Poly scored three goals in the last 30 minutes of regulation.
‘[Cal Poly] just beat the national champions. They are obviously a good team, but we were up 2-0 in their place,’ said Coach George Kuntz. ‘I feel like we gave that game away. We’ve proven we can play outstanding soccer with them.’
The game kicked off with 932 people in Anteater Stadium, where the Mustangs took an early lead off a breakaway goal down the right side by freshman Kyle Montgomery. Despite playing down early on, the Anteaters did an excellent job of keeping the ball on Cal Poly’s side of the field for most of the game but had trouble converting.
In the second half, Cal Poly’s offense came out firing but was stopped by some amazing saves from freshman goalkeeper Pat Barton, who ended the game with four saves.
The ‘Eaters had many opportunities to score but couldn’t capitalize on them due to the spectacular play of Cal Poly’s junior keeper Eric Branagan-Franco, who also ended the game with four saves for Cal Poly.
At the 76-minute mark, a red card was handed to junior Kyle Schmid, forcing the Anteaters to play a man down for the rest of the game. In the 87th minute, junior forward Michael Willrich nearly scored off a right side breakaway but barely hit the side of the goal.
After 15 minutes of playing a man down, a red card was given to Cal Poly’s Mario Fernandez to even out the teams at 10 players each side. This happened following a yellow card given to Fernandez, his second of the night, that gave the Anteaters a free kick from 30 yards out with two seconds left in the game.
With a worried Anteater crowd on its feet, junior Matt Murphy