Winless Week Haunts Anteaters

Marlon Castillo/New University

UCI 0, CSUN 0

UC Irvine and CSU Northridge men’s soccer teams squared off for the second time this season in a familiar low-scoring and physical bout at Matador Soccer Field. Wednesday’s defensive struggle ended in a double-overtime draw, as neither team was able to break through for a single goal. However, the draw was enough to give the Anteaters sole possession of first place in the Big West Conference with a 5-3-1 record.

An air of familiarity was present as UCI knew this match would be a physical test like the two teams last encountered each other.

“It’s what we expect[ed],” said left back Bello Alhassan. “Last year we played them and it was the same thing.”

The first half of the game appeared to be controlled by the Anteaters as UCI out-shot CSUN seven shots to three, including three shots on goal by UCI. Center back Everett Pitts nearly headed in a goal in the 15th after a Christian Hernandez free kick was deflected and crossed into the box.

The ’Eaters missed another opportunity in the 24th minute after Christopher Santana broke free down the right side of the field and fired the ball right into the arms of the CSUN keeper. Defensively, the Anteaters were able to limit the Matador’s chances in the first half, allowing only one shot on goal by CSUN.

In the second half, both teams came out desperately trying to control possession and create scoring opportunities. The Anteaters had their chances, as shots by Ibarra, Hernandez and Santana were all denied by the CSUN keeper. On the other side, ’Eaters keeper Andrew Fontein was able to tally his seventh shutout of the season. By the game’s end, the Matadors had out-shot the Anteaters 17 to 16 but to no avail, as the match would end in a stalemate at 0-0.

UCR 3, UCI 2

The emotions ran high on Saturday night at Anteater Stadium, as the UCI men’s soccer “Senior Night” was spoiled by a hungry UC Riverside team.

The night began with the honoring of the team’s eight senior players: Bello Alhassan, Andrew Fontein, Christian Hernandez, Miguel Ibarra, Jonathan Rivas, Norby Rodriguez, Syd Tom and Jimmy Turner. With all their individual accomplishments and accolades, this group of seniors will graduate from UCI as the most decorated class of players in the history of UCI soccer.

Running on emotion, the Anteaters ran out the gates aggressively creating multiple scoring opportunities within the game’s first 10 minutes. In the 12th minute, the Anteaters were able to break the scoreless tie after freshman forward Cameron Iwasa smoked a goal in the near corner through the arms of the Riverside keeper. This is Iwasa’s second goal in the last three games, and his second consecutive goal at home.

Irvine would remain aggressive on the offensive side. Center back Everett “the General” Pitts nearly headed in a goal for the second consecutive game and senior Christian Hernandez nearly netted another goal after his straight away shot grazed the front post.

The UC Riverside Highlanders would respond in the 39th minute, sneaking a goal past goalkeeper Andrew Fontein. The teams would go into the locker room tied up at 1-1 apiece.

In the second half, the Highlanders continued their aggressive approach, nearly scoring again in the 49th minute. With both teams desperately trying to win the game, the second half included really chippy play. Players were sliding all over the field and referees were letting them play.

In the 68th minute, the Anteaters were able to regain the lead as seniors Miguel Ibarra and Christian Hernandez connected for a goal. The goal gave the Anteaters a 2-1 lead and gave Hernandez the team lead in points.

Just as it looked like UCI had taken control of the game, UCR refused to give up. In the 79th minute, Riverside would tie up the game at 2-2 on a long cross to a lone UCR striker who hammered it to the low right of the goal past Fontein.

For a moment it looked like UCI was going to have its third consecutive home overtime game. However, in the 88th minute, Riverside would score on a goal that looked offside. Nevertheless, the game-winning goal counted as UCR dampened the spirits of UCI’s Senior Night.

The defensive collapse at the end of the game could be attributed to the high emotion at the beginning of the game. The Anteaters were not able to securely possess the ball and consequently let the game get away from them.

The Anteaters final match will come on the road on Nov. 1 against a tough Cal Poly team that upset UCI at Anteater Stadium earlier in the season.

The Anteaters will look to clinch a playoff berth and secure the Big West title.