Men’s Soccer Suffers First Home Lost
Three recorded goals, all in the second half by the Cal State Northridge Matadors hand the no. 3 UC Irvine Men’s soccetheir first loss at home this season. The Anteaters’ 3-0 loss marks them at 11-3-2 this season and for the first time since 2012, they have they lost two consecutive games.
The CSUN Matadors, now sitting with a record of 2-4-1 in the Big West Conference, controlled UC Irvine’s offense all game and capitalized on their struggling defense by scoring on three separate occasions. CSUN Sophomore Patrick Hickman scored the first goal of the game in the 62nd minute, where he received a long throw-in into the penalty box in which he capitalized on a recovering Anteater defense. Matador senior Sagi Lev-Ari scored twice against the ‘Eater defense both in the 77th and 87th minute. Irvine’s defense was not playing at their championship caliber as they allowed a total of 11 shots to Goalkeeper Michael Breslin, including a missed penalty kick by CSUN.
The first half was a defensive stalemate for both teams as they both scored a combined 10 shots. Northridge used their substitutions frequently to continuously pressure the Irvine defense into making mistakes. One huge defensive mistake Irvine made was a yellow card drawn by goalkeeper Michael Breslin, which led to a penalty kick for CSUN. As the first half was coming to a close, both teams pushed to end the period with a lead to work with. Most of Irvine’s shots were coming from players creating their own shots, such as Mitchell Alvarez’ near miss in the 25th minute. CSUN’s scoring opportunities were created by passes that penetrated the defense and, for most of the game, had them chasing to defend the ball.
Northridge took control of the game with a strong effort on their offensive and defensive fronts, but also with the added effort on defense. CSUN captain Trevor Morley had key defensive plays in the second half, which led to transition opportunities for the Matador offense. The ame began to go completely in favor for Northridge after their first goal as Irvine’s players began losing their temper. An altercation involving a headbutt by CSUN’s Pol Schonhofer Barta led to a numerous amounts of bookings by an official that caused Irvine to lose their focus. The tension of the game did rise and led to a last push by the ‘Eaters, but the second goal by CSUN would prove to be the dagger. Irvine’s short sense of urgency was now dead and they conceded the third goal right before the game ended.
Statistically, the Anteaters had more scoring opportunities but were unable to get clean looks at the net due to running the ball individually. During the postgame huddle, head coach Chris Folk expressed his displeasure at the “selfish play” put on by the team.
“We were just going with the guys I thought were playing well tonight,” said Coach Folk in regards to not putting in fresh Anteaters for the game.
The ‘Eaters offense must find their rhythm once again to end their season strong and win as much points in their division as they can.
“We need to improve on this and regroup,” said Breslin when asked about the team’s defensive efforts.
Senior forward Cameron Isawa was also displeased with the team’s defense. “We need to clear the ball,” said Isawa. “They scored three times off missed clearances.”
No. 3 UC Irvine has three games left on their regular season schedule in which they will be competing in the southern division of the Big West, which is now wide open. They now are tied for the first place spot atop the division with Cal State Fullerton.
“We’re still in the top half of our division,” said Coach Folk. “And we’ve still got three games to play.”
The Anteaters will look to return to championship caliber form when they take on the Titans on the road this Wednesday for the right to sit alone atop the Big West.
“Winning is a habit, and we just got to get back to that,” Bryan Breslin said.