UC Irvine Anteaters beat ranked UCLA Bruins 3-1 at Anteater Stadium.
The UC Irvine Men’s Soccer team versed the UCLA Bruins during a home game at the Anteater Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 19. This marked a significant match for the ’Eaters, as it was the 30th anniversary game of UCI Men’s Soccer. It was also the first time since 2004 that the Anteaters hosted the Bruins in their home field.
The line to get in to the stadium stretched out onto the surrounding fields, as ’Eaters and Bruins alike were decked out in their apparel. The Antourage that night was composed of players’ families and other UCI athletic teams who were all there to support their fellow Anteaters.
UCLA started off the first half aggressively with an attempt caught by UCI’s goalie Michael Breslin. His defensive line kept the Bruins at bay for most of the game, only allowing one goal by UCLA in the tail end of the second half by a free kick. Breslin and his defenders held their own this game.
“Honestly, I know we’ve all worked hard. Whatever I can do to help our team win, I am willing to do, but our defense has made my job so easy. The back line is really great. The credit is to the back line honestly,” Breslin said.
# 11 Cameron Iwasa opened the Anteaters’ success with his point from a long kick set up by goalie Michael Breslin. Iwasa made the run on goal and took a shot from the box that slung past UCLA’s goal keeper during the starting 10 minutes of the game. UCI wrapped up the first half leading 1-0.
“I was almost disappointed that the guys made a goal so early on. Sometimes that causes them to let down a little bit. But they held their own and kept their composure,” Coach Kuntz said.
The second half heated up for both teams and got increasingly physical as the tension rose between the players of both teams. The fouls began with a yellow card to UCLA’s #10 Leo Stolz, followed by another yellow collected by UCI’s #32 Michael Sperber for a slide tackle. The validity of Sperber’s yellow was disputed as fans yelled out that it was “all ball” and “a clean tackle.”
“The ref said it wasn’t a foul ball but I deserved it for all the previous plays,” Sperber said. “The game started getting rough, but we just stayed calm.”
Despite the disagreements, UCLA matched the Anteaters’ aggression as the game wore on past the 55th minute, rounding up their total amount of yellow cards to 3. Their aggression led to a penalty kick taken by #10, Enrique ‘Quique’ Cardenas. Cardenas took a second penalty kick after UCLA received their third and final yellow card in the goal box, setting up Cardenas for an easy goal.
“[For penalty kicks,] you have to stay calm. Pick a side and stick to it,” Cardenas said.
“Quique is the most confident guy on the team so for him it is no big deal,” added #11 Cameron Iwasa about Cardenas’ consistency with collecting goals for UCI via penalty kicks.
This ended the game with a final score of 3-1.
The team has poured hours in to becoming a better, tight knit team.
“That’s something we worked on this summer. Some of the guys got together and we watched films of games and said ‘this is what we are going to do as a team. Collectively we are going to stay together defensively. We are going to communicate and we are going to have each other’s backs,” Caldernas said.
“If you watch us play, everything has been proven. We are here to play this year. We are going to be a force to reckon with,” Iwasa said.
In a post game interview, Coach Kuntz spoke about how the team has grown together as a whole. He mentioned how it’s important to stay in motion and stay aggressive, but also be able to keep their composure, play technically, clean and smart. He wanted the ’Eaters to come back this season and be more attack-minded, working on their mentality as well as better rotation of players and sustaining pressure on the other team.
“We really worked on their mentality. Thinking ‘Let’s get that one back’ when a team scores against them instead of hanging their heads,” Coach Kuntz said. His description was exactly how the Anteaters played against the Bruins.