The 23rd-ranked UC Irvine men’s soccer team bounced back from a tough week last week and defeated UC Riverside 4-2 Saturday night at UCR Soccer Stadium.
UCI (8-1-3, 1-1-1) came out without a win last week against two ranked conference opponents in UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara.
The first match was the most physical one all year as two players were ejected and over 50 fouls were recorded. Davis-Irvine match ups have become heated lately. The Anteaters are always welcomed with hostile crowds at Davis where the Aggie fans can practically touch the players on the field from the bleachers. This time, at UCI, the game went to double overtime without a victor as the teams tied 1-1.
The much anticipated match ups between UCI and UCSB did not lack any drama as a hard fought match ended in a 2-1 loss for the ‘Eaters. UCI had a man advantage for much of the second half, but didn’t seem to attack until the last 10 minutes of the game.
On Saturday night, UCI wasted no time as the first goal came courtesy of junior Carlos Aguilar off a pass from senior Matt Murphy in the 28th minute.
The Highlanders would then score just before halftime when Joel Crompton caught the UCI defense off guard and launched a quick free kick into the net. UCI Keeper Andrew Fontein was busy setting up the wall when he saw the ball unexpectedly sail into the net.
UCI would break the tie in the second half and Murphy was on the scoring side this time as he converted a penalty kick to put UCI up 2-1 in the 62nd minute.
In the 80th minute, UCR’s Cesar Dias drew a red card and was ejected from the game. Two minutes later, Murphy converted a free kick just outside of the box to put the Anteaters up 3-1.
Freshman Norby Rodriquez would cap the scoring for UCI with a goal in the 89th minute.
The Highlanders would cut the deficit to two as Joel Crompton scored his second goal of the game in the last second when UCI believed that the game had ended.
Murphy’s five points on the night tied him in the all-time UCI points total with 73. He matched former Anteaters Brad Evans’ and P.J. Polowski’s records. He is also tied for most game winners at 10.
UCI returns home on Wednesday at 7 p.m. to host Cal State Fullerton in a Big West match up.