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A Series of Unfortunate Goals: UCI Men’s Soccer Experience a Devastating 4-0 Loss Against UC Riverside

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UCI Men’s Soccer (2-10-1, 2-3) suffered a tremendous 4-0 defeat against the UC Riverside Highlanders (3-6-3, 3-1-1) at the UCR Soccer Stadium on Wednesday, Oct.12.

Anteaters entered the game with cunning speed and launched several attacks on UCR’s defense. The first challenge came at minute three, where a quick turnover by UCR, only a few feet away from midfield, resulted in a hasty UCI rally. 

The ball jumped to two temporary UCI players before it arrived inside the box to UCI sophomore midfielder Francesco Montanile. He set up his shot and launched his attempt slightly too close to UCR junior goalkeeper Carlos Gonzalez, who tipped the attempt out of bounds.

UCI struggled to overtake UCR’s lockdown defense spearheaded by senior and sophomore defenders, Freymar Omarsson and Aleksander Vukovic, who towered over UCI’s small forwards. 

At 15 minutes, the Anteaters continued to dominate ball possession and accrued many clean shots at the net, which simply didn’t yield any results. UCR’s defensive scheme began wearing down the Anteaters’ offense. At minute 21, a fumbled volley only a few feet away from the box resulted in a dangerously wide open opportunity for Highlander sophomore forward Noah Lopez. The ball landed safely into the hands of UCI sophomore goalkeeper Luke Pruter, keeping the score tied at 0-0.

In minute 24, UCR gained possession at the midfield and the ball was kicked to Lopez far inside UCI’s corner. Lopez fired and unexpectedly deflected off UCI sophomore defender Mathias Winum. The ball snuck past UCI’s defensive line and fell into the feet of senior midfielder Issa Badawiya, who caught Pruter out of position and scored. 

The Anteater defense was beyond shocked and intensely puzzled, as if calculating the odds of such events before play resumed. Nonetheless, UCR pulled off a sly heist and pulled ahead 1-0.

In the subsequent minutes, UCR’s goal was the epicenter for action. The Anteaters snatched the ball at the midfield and ambitiously passed into UCR’s corner. UCI graduate student forward Robert Mejia emitted the ball from the top of the box right into Gonzalez’s gloves. Soon after, UCI was offered another opportunity, which came in the form of a free kick by senior midfielder Ashish Chattha. He fired the ball to the leftmost corner of the goal and Gonzalez swiftly sidestepped and caught the ball. 

After two failed Anteater goal attempts — one that came off a volley and another from a corner kick — UCR, eager to respond, began to rally back towards UCI’s goal. The ball made it past the midfield toward UCI’s goal, but flew back behind the midfield where senior midfielder Leopoldo Hernandez gained possession. Hernandez made an elegant and calm pass to UCR sophomore forward Luka Lukic, who was able to beat his defender and subsequently scored UCR’s second goal. 

Four minutes later, the Highlanders were on the attack again. A volley from the midfield reached all the way to the far corner near UCI’s goal, by UCR freshman defender Andrew Alexander. He centered the ball into the box, where Lukic and senior defender Brendan Clark awaited. The ball went high and reached Lukic, who jumped and went for a header. The ball was sent straight to Clark, who directed a header towards the goal, scoring yet another goal. The Anteaters, visibly frustrated, faced a daunting 3-0 deficit before the end of the half. 

The final, most insulting and infuriating goal came in the minutes of the nightmarish first half. UCR was awarded a corner kick, which Clark graciously took. The ball was volleyed into a sea of players inside the box and UCI goalkeeper Pruter saw a chance to tip the ball out of bounds. Unfortunately, Pruter’s tip wasn’t strong enough and the ball spun into the goal. UCR scored yet another point and the lead towered at 4-0. The half ended minutes after the fourth goal. 

Fortunately and equally unfortunately, the game ended with no goals scored in the second half of play. The Anteaters’ bout against the UCR Highlanders ended 4-0.

Jason Garcia Escobar is a Sports Intern for the fall 2022 quarter. He can be reached at jasonag3@uci.edu.