UCI Splits Overtime Thrillers

UCD 2, UCI 1

After  two straight road games, UC Irvine’s men’s soccer team returned home to face UC Davis at Anteater Stadium on Oct. 19.

Lester Hayes III scored UCI’s lone goal, while Andrew Fontein was put to work in the post. Fontein reeled in six saves.

UCI came out aggressively in the first half, controlling possession. In the 27th minute, Christian Hernandez flicked a pass ahead to Hayes, who then shot it past the defense, scoring the first goal of the game and giving the ’Eaters a 1-0 lead.

Both teams were attacking in the first half, UCI with 8 shots and Davis with 5. Fontein was forced to make leaping saves in order to salvage the first-half lead.

UCI’s energy seemed to lapse in the second half as UC Davis’ progressed. In the 59th minute, Aggie Alex Aguilar kicked the ball into the box and Kevin Schulte crept past the UCI defenders, sending the ball past Fontein with a header, tying the game at one.

The Anteaters and Aggies continued to take shots at the goals in regulation, making crisp passes, and closing in on scoring opportunities. In the 89th minute, Fontein made a crucial save that sent the game to overtime.

In overtime, the Aggies gained momentum, controlling the ball within UCI’s box. Irvine had an opportunity as one of the top-scorers, Christian Hernandez, had a chance just outside of the box, but he overshot the crossbar. The game ended in the 98th minute when Schulte scored off of a give-and-go from teammate John Joslin, securing a 2-1 victory. Davis’ win tied them for first in the Big West. Senior Bello Alhassan said that it was a tough loss, because UCI “didn’t work hard enough and [they] didn’t give [their] best compared to Davis, who gave their best from the beginning to the end.”

UCI 1, CSUF 0

UCI bounced back against Cal State Fullerton with a 1-0 overtime win. Cameron Iwasa scored the game-winner and was assisted by Marco Franco and Miguel Ibarra. The game featured many missed opportunities on both sides, but UCI came out on top and   boosted their Big West record to 5-2, improving to 13-4 overall.

UCI opened the half with six shots, with four on goal. Ibarra had a golden chance at scoring when Tarek Morad found him at wide left. Ibarra took a good touch and ran up towards the left side of the opposing penalty box. After faking out one defender outside the box, Ibarra closed in on goal and took a low shot to the right. However the weak shot was gathered by Fullerton’s keeper.

In the 26th minute, Franco dribbled up the right flank after getting past a midfielder and delivered a low pass to Lester Hayes III who was marked inside the box. Hayes received the ball and released yet another awkward shot that was corralled by the goalkeeper.

The second half featured the same 50-50 ground possession that was characterized the first half, as both teams exchanged close opportunities. UCI let one perfect chance go to waste when Christopher Santana received the ball in the opposition’s right side of the penalty box and deflected a shot off the crossbar.

In overtime, UCI finally broke through. Franco bolted to the right side of the box and gave a short pass to Ibarra, who found Iwasa open in the center of the box. Iwasa blasted the ball to the back of the net for the golden goal.

“In overtime we really wanted to push the tempo and bring a lot of intensity and energy. Coach really stressed that during this week,” Franco said. “I just wanted to keep going out like I did all game and try to create something. Miggy [Ibarra] gave me a great run.”

Three regular season games remain for Irvine. With Cal State Northridge, UC Riverside, and Cal Poly on their radar, the Big West Tournament draws near.