By: Stefan Curtis Jones
Photography Provided by UCI Athletics
The UCI Men’s Soccer team fell short one goal in their 2-3 loss to the No. 6 Cal State Northridge Matadors on Nov. 6. The UCI Anteaters struggled the entire game, but the encouragement of their home crowd sparked a 2-0 rally late in the game that ultimately wasn’t enough to leave them victorious. This game marked their second straight loss to CSUN and put an early end to their post-season championship run.
The Matadors got their lead early off of a goal from their redshirt senior midfielder Julio Rubio that went in after hitting the right corner post. The Anteaters had difficulty maintaining possession of the ball in the first half due to CSUN disrupting their passing lanes and allowing minimal space between the ball handler and the defender. CSUN prevented UCI from having decent shot opportunities by stacking their defenders in the box and blocking nearly every attempt.
CSUN continued this dominant style of play and after taking advantage of a poor pass by UCI, CSUN’s junior forward Daniel Trejo zoomed past UCI’s defenders to score, putting them up 2-0. UCI responded with a goal shortly after that sent the crowd roaring, but the confusion by the referees ultimately led to there being an offside call that took away their point. There were controversial calls in both halves that frustrated both teams. In the first half alone there were seven yellow cards called, three of which were on the Anteaters.
“We weren’t focused on our own game, we were focused too much on the refs,” said UCI’s senior midfielder Victor Falck when asked about the team’s frustration with the foul calls. The Anteaters faced both tough defense and referee play-calling, but they didn’t let that hinder their resilience in the second half.
It was urgent for UCI to score in the second half, which led to them making 10 shot attempts in comparison to their seven in the first half. CSUN’s redshirt junior goalkeeper Paul Lewis was unfazed by this and made a deep diving save to the left midway through the second half, keeping UCI scoreless. The Matadors continued to show no mercy as they stunned UCI’s graduate goalkeeper Ford Parker with a goal that spontaneously emerged from a horde of players 27 minutes into the second half. The goal was scored by CSUN redshirt sophomore forward Khalid Hunter.
After 81 minutes of relentless effort, the Anteaters finally got on the scoreboard off of a free kick from their redshirt junior midfielder Christian “Gun Gun” Gutierrez. Lewis blocked another close shot attempt by UCI, but UCI’s senior midfielder Jose Ortiz refused to let the game end there as he gave his home crowd hope with a goal late in the second half, assisted by Falck.
The Anteaters were unable to score in the final two minutes of the game and were officially eliminated from the Big West Tournament.
The UCI Men’s Soccer team made a valiant effort in their last game of the 2019 season. They will now look to fix their mistakes and prepare for a fresh start in the upcoming year.