Late Goal Gives ‘Eaters Win
In front of 850 fans on Saturday night at Anteater stadium, the (3-9-1) ‘Eaters took on the (4-9-1) Cal State Fullerton Titans in what turned out to be a nail-biting 2-1 UCI victory.
After heartbreaking losses to conference opponents, the men’s soccer team was undeterred and took down the Titans to improve to a 4-9-1 overall record and a 1-4 record in Big West play.
The first half of Saturday night’s game saw a number of fouls by both teams, but there was no net action within the first 45 minutes of play.
After the break and just four minutes after the start of the second half, Fullerton had control of the ball in the box and successfully found the back of the net.
Within a minute of Fullerton’s goal, the ‘Eaters were determined to force the ball onto their opponents’ side and pushed their defenders to the center-line. The strategy proved successful. When the Titan goalkeeper got a hand on a shot from junior Christopher Santana, freshman Pavle Atanackovic put a head on the rebound and put the Anteaters on the board.
While no league game can end in a tie, a physical battle sprung out between the two teams. The game had a total of five yellow cards and over 25 fouls total, making this one of the most physical games the ‘Eaters have played all season long.
With just minutes left, junior Enrique Cardenas saved the night for the ‘Eaters when a ball in the Titan’s box went loose; Cardenas got a shot off of the goalkeeper’s hands and sent the ball soaring into the left post in the 86th minute.
“I come out and try to get a goal,” explained Cardenas. “If not, I try to work hard and help out on defense and offense.”
The game-winning goal by Cardenas gave the Anteaters their first conference win this season.
“Hopefully this win is a domino effect to more wins,” said Cardenas.
Although the ‘Eaters are off to a slower start, the men have been training harder to execute more plays to earn more goals and ultimately more wins.
“The guys have had a great attitude and come through with more confidence,” affirmed Coach George Kuntz. “The games have been one goal games, so if we work on it to where we don’t concede goals, we would be winning more games.”
With just one senior on the team, the freshmen have been able to see some game time as well. Half a dozen of them saw action on Saturday and one (Atanackovic) scored for the ‘Eaters to tie it at 1-1.
Injuries have also affected UCI’s lineup, while junior Gor Kirakosyan sat on the bench Saturday night due to a leg injury he incurred during the game against Cal Poly Pomona.
As for the rest of the season, the ‘Eaters see this win as a foreshadowing of more wins to come. With a plane trip in the next two weeks, the win after back-to-back losses could not have come at a better time.
“We will be flying back and forth in two days, but I am glad we get to play in Kentucky instead of taking the time off, it can give us a name on the east coast and prepares the guys by playing against a good team,” explained Coach Kuntz.
The ‘Eaters look to take on UC Riverside on Highlander territory and will come back to Anteater Stadium on the 20th to play against Cal State Northridge.