After dropping their first two conference matches for just the third time since 2000, UCI men’s soccer (3-10, 1-3) left for a tough road trip to take on UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly. The ‘Eaters split their second week of conference play and were able to secure a pivotal win against the Cal Poly squad that knocked them out of the first round of the conference tournament last year.
An early goal for the Gauchos turned out to be the difference as UCI fell to UCSB (7-5-1, 3-0-1 in conference) 1-0 at Harder Stadium on Thursday night. Despite the loss, the ‘Eaters kept pace with the Gauchos, earning more corner kicks and edging them in shots 9-8 including five on target.
The Gauchos got on the board in the 10th minute after junior forward Ahinga Selemani delivered a strike past UCI freshman keeper Alex Waldron. UCSB senior Josue España fed a streaking Selemani into the box who was able to finish to take a 1-0 lead.
UCI sophomore midfielder Ivan Canales and junior midfielder Mario Ortiz were active on the offensive end for the duration of the match, but were unable to convert any chances for the ‘Eaters. Ortiz came the closest with a shot in the 48th minute that hit the top crossbar but bounced away.
The ‘Eaters’ chance to equalize increased in the 75th minute when UCSB senior Andy Perez was shown a red card, but failed to capitalize as the Gauchos clung to their 1-0 lead.
As head coach Chris Volk continues to tinker with the lineup trying to find the most effective eleven, senior forward Edgardo Molina, sophomore midfielder Corey Schramm and freshman midfielder Logan Wyner made their season debuts for the Anteaters.
The ‘Eaters were able to put their disappointing conference start behind them and dispatch Cal Poly (2-7-2, 0-3-1) by a score of 2-0 for their first Big West win on Saturday night, ending a four-game skid.
Wyner and Schramm made their first career starts after their season debuts against Santa Barbara, and senior keeper Elliot Farmer combined with Waldron for a clean sheet after Waldron left with an injury in the 60th minute.
Junior Randall McDermott knocked home his first career score, finishing a beautiful lead pass from Canales on the run in the 28th minute to give UCI the go-ahead goal.
Cal Poly had their fair share of chances and were on the wrong end of a controversial call in the 59th minute, when Waldron stopped a shot on goal but had the ball knocked out of his hands by a Mustang player. The ball rolled into the net but was called back and the ‘Eaters were assessed a free kick.
Waldron exited the game a moment later with one save under his belt, and Farmer filled in seamlessly with three timely saves of his own including a wide-open stop in the 69th minute that prevented the Mustangs from equalizing.
The ‘Eaters have struggled with putting opponents away all season, but were able to add an insurance goal in the 75th minute. Sophomore Jorge Lara was on the business end of Canales’ second assist of the night, heading home a corner kick to put UCI ahead 2-0.
In addition to Wyner and Schramm, freshman Jose Ortiz made his first career start and fellow freshman Manny Acosta saw his first collegiate action logging 22 minutes off the bench.
UCI climbs to 3-10, and 1-3 in conference earning a much-needed three points in the Big West South Division, and are currently tied for third place. They have a chance to make up serious ground in the division as they travel to UC Riverside to take on the first-place Highlanders.