UCI Men’s Soccer (1-2-0) avenged their losses in last week’s road trip by outlasting the Grand Canyon University Antelopes 1-0 in their home opener Friday at Anteater Stadium. A timely score and stout defense helped the Anteaters secure their first win of the year, as well as their first clean sheet.
The ‘Eaters were in desperate need of a win after dropping their first two matches of the season.
“You always want to win at home. Grand Canyon’s a quality program with a good coach; they’re coming off a pretty good win for themselves in their home opener,” said head coach Chris Volk. “When you start your season off 0-2, you definitely don’t want to go 0-3.”
The Antelopes tested goalkeeper Elliot Farmer early and often, sending in 14 shots with 4 on goal. Farmer saved all four, including an impressive diving stop as Grand Canyon aimed to tie the match late in the first half. Just before half time, the levee finally threatened to break as a GCU forward had a clean look inside the box before senior defender Matthew Tilley slid in out of nowhere to deflect the shot into the waiting arms of Farmer.
“Props to my back line, they’re out there defending the whole time and they made some big headers, some big tackles,” added Farmer. “It’s a team win, I definitely had my moments, but so did everybody else on the field.”
In the early going, the ‘Eaters struggled stringing together meaningful possessions and were outshot 9-2 in the first half. They were able to capitalize in the 24th minute as a cross from sophomore Luis Leon found the foot of junior Giovanni Godoy to give UCI the only goal of the match. Junior Mario Ortiz was also credited with an assist on the play.
“I thought [GCU] were the most dangerous team on set pieces tonight,” said Volk. “If you look at it statistically, on the night we had five shots with five on goal, but we got the one that mattered.”
The ‘Eaters were able to stave off the relentless Antelope attack, but look to improve their potency on the offensive end.
“We’ve got to create more chances in the final third. We had 5 decent chances, we scored one. We’ve got to be a bit more dangerous,” Volk added.
“The thing I’m most proud of tonight though, is that we came off a weekend and conceded 7 goals in two games. We didn’t concede a goal tonight, that’s a huge improvement.”
The win puts UCI at 1-2 on the year as they prepare to host Florida Gulf Coast on Sunday afternoon.