UCI Soccer Splits Big West Openers
Cal Poly 1 UCI 0
The ’Eaters walked away with a 1-0 loss to the Cal Poly Mustangs on home turf Wednesday night. In the conference opener, Irvine led in shots on goal with 18 to the Mustang’s three, however, a penalty kick for Cal Poly in the 53rd minute ended up being enough for the Mustang’s to secure the win.
The first 45 minutes saw a number of corner kicks in Mustang territory, but the ’Eaters were unable to capitalize on the opportunities. Irvine orchestrated drives and pass sequences that threatened Cal Poly; however, the Mustangs were able to cut up connections and answered the attacks.
With eight shots fired in the first half for the ’Eaters, Irvine created opportunities but fell short in finishing and putting points on the board.
“We’ve got to finish our opportunities,” said head coach George Kuntz. “We played a little bit young tonight [and] fairly young teams, are going to have fairly erratic nights. This was one of those nights.”
Physical play dominated the match, and less than 10 minutes into the second half, a foul was called inside the penalty box on UCI senior defender Jonathan Rivas. The penalty kick amounted to the only Cal Poly threat in the second half, but unfortunately the ball found the left side of the net past senior goalkeeper Andrew Fontein, bumping the Mustangs ahead with a 1-0 lead. Four minutes later, a Cal Poly player was ejected from the game following a second yellow card on a hand-ball, giving the ’Eaters the advantage of playing 11 players to 10.
With 33 minutes left of playing time, Irvine attempted to level the score and came close on several occasions. In the 63rd minute, Christian Hernandez and Marco Franco combined together on passes and beautifully fed Enrique Cardenas who then fired a shot, but the Mustang keeper was in good position and got his hands on it. On another attack, senior Norby Rodriguez sent a dangerous cross through the box. Hoping to put it away, Enrique Cardenas and Miguel Ibarra jumped to get a head on it, but came up short as the ball soared just wide of the net.
Irvine made substitutions as they pressured the Mustangs defense up until the final seconds when a last attempt to tie the game was fired, but never found the net. With a win for Cal Poly, Wednesday marked the first Mustang away victory against the Eaters in seven seasons.
“You get one goal, and it can change the game,” said Coach Kuntz.
With the first league game behind them, the ’Eaters prepare to move forward.
“It’s a loss, and it hurts,” reveals senior defender Jimmy Turner. “But we have to get back up and push forward. Get focused for the next one. We can’t change anything about this one, so we have to focus, and get ready.”
UCI 2 UCSB 0
The Anteaters found the net twice as UCI defeated the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos 2-0 in their first win in the Big West. Miguel Ibarra scored his fourth goal of the season as Lester Hayes III nabbed this third. Marco Franco also earned a point through an assist, making him tied as the team leader in that category with four this season. UCI’s victory proved to be huge as they managed to break UCSB’s 16-game unbeaten streak at home.
UCI did not open up the scoring until the 67th minute when Jimmy Turner dribbled around several defenders and found Ibarra speeding towards goal. Ibarra hit a shot that grazed a UCSB player’s head and over the keeper into the net.
Then in the 80th minute, Marco Franco displayed deft decision-making as he took a shot at goal towards the right post. Lester Hayes III was in the right place as he redirected the shot with his head to set the final score.
Next Game: Cal State Fullerton
When: October 5 at Cal State Fullerton, 7:00 p.m.
What to watch for: The 19th-ranked Titans have shown their ability to keep up with other ranked opponents after their 0-0 match against Akron. However, they learned their lesson that anything can happen in the Big West after losing 3-0 to CSU Northridge. The defense must prepare to contain Kevin Venegas who has five goals and three assists this season and Jameson Campbell whose size and speed would prove to be advantageous in the air.