Men’s Soccer Can’t Untie the Knot
UCI 1 vs. Cal Poly 1
UC Irvine began its two-game road trip on Wednesday with a sigh of relief after a much needed late-game goal.
Matt Murphy hit his 30th career goal on a penalty kick in the last minute against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, tying an important Big West matchup, 1-1.
The Anteaters and the Mustangs both started slowly with minimal offensive attacks. But in the 77th minute, Cal Poly sophmore David Zamora was the first to score after being the benefactor of a redirected header in the box after a corner kick. He put the Mustangs up one and the Anteaters put the offensive into overdrive, making sure to capitalize on any Mustang mistake. Murphy’s penalty kick in the last minute was exactly that.
After the Murphy penalty kick, the game went into not one, but two scoreless overtimes. Neither team could finish late or throughout the game for that matter. UCI (8-1-6, 1-1-4) had 21 shots on goal and did not net a single one. The non-ranked Cal Poly team (8-4-4 overall, 3-2-2) came away with a very good outcome considering UCI’s constant pressure on its goalie.
Murphy added more to the late-game offensive fury. In the last minutes of the second overtime, he attempted a bicycle kick in the box after a deflected throw-in. It hit the Mustang keeper right in the chest and the ‘Eaters narrowly missed another chance, which would be their last. Neither team could convert in the double overtime draw.
This was UCI’s second straight tie in the last two weeks. It has started league play sluggishly with a number of acceptable but unwanted ties. The Anteaters opened the season with an onslaught of wins but they have slowed down lately in league play. Despite the slow start in league, after Wednesday’s game UCI remained in the top five in the Big West.
UCI 1 UC Davis 1
Another day, another tie.
UC Irvine men’s soccer went up to UC Davis on Saturday and came home with yet another tie. The 1-1 draw was Irvine’s third in a row, putting them 1-1-4 in league play and keeping them in fifth place in the Big West.
However, Saturday’s game provided a little early-season magic. Matt Murphy started the attack by passing to Irving Garcia, who then found Spencer Thompson free in front of the net for an easy goal in the 17th minute. It was Thompson’s sixth goal of the season, putting the 20th-ranked Anteaters up 1-0 early on the 10th-ranked Aggies.
But the UCI lead was short lived. At the start of the second half, Aggie senior midfielder Dylan Curtis hit a 15-yard shot in the 50th minute to tie the score at 1-1. Curtis almost scored another one just minutes later that instead hit the post and kept the score tied.
The Anteaters would not allow the Aggies to get close to the net for the rest of the game, after a grueling double overtime match. The Anteaters ended up walking away with their third tie in a row.
“The guys represented the university well and tied the [10th-ranked] team in the nation at their place,” said Irvine Head Coach George Kuntz. “It was nice to see Spencer Thompson get a goal and add to his points total. It was just a pretty crazy league battle and I am proud of our guys.”
The game was flooded with physical play throughout, with a total of 48 penalties called and four different yellow cards issued two to each team. Irvine has not backed down from any opponent this season and showed a toughness on Saturday that proves them worthy of their position as 20th-ranked in the nation.
The team has struggled to finish lately, but will attempt to cure that curse on Wednesday as they host Cal State Fullerton at 7 p.m. in Big West play at Anteater Stadium.