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Men’s Soccer Defeats CSU Northridge in Must-Win Game to Keep Playoff Hopes Alive

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The UC Irvine Men’s Soccer team (4-11-1) defeated CSU Northridge (7-5-4) 2-1 at the Matador Soccer Field on Saturday, Oct. 22.

The Anteater victory was thanks to two goals from graduate forward Robert Mejia.

Redshirt freshman Anteater goalkeeper Cody Aung was in goal for his first-ever start, replacing regular starter sophomore goalkeeper Luke Pruter.

The first chance to score came two minutes into the game, when Mejia fired a shot from outside the box and it sailed wide. The ‘Eaters kept up the pressure for the first five minutes, enjoying possession of the ball in the Matador half.

The first save of the game came from Matador redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Cooper Wenzel as he dove low and right to stop another shot from Mejia from outside the box.

CSUN responded with a shot of their own from redshirt sophomore forward Jamar Ricketts, who controlled the ball with his back to the goal. He quickly turned around and shot it to the bottom right corner of the net where Aung made a comfortable save.

11 minutes into the game, CSUN redshirt junior forward Jack Rhead bolted alongside Ricketts on the counterattack. Ricketts placed a through ball to Rhead, whose shot ricocheted off the post. The Matadors failed to score on their best chance of the game so far, but the play was called back anyways due to Rhead being offside.

The first breakthrough for the Anteaters came 15 minutes in, as Mejia dribbled around two midfielders in the center of the pitch. He bolted up the field and fed it nicely to freshman forward Diego Otoya, whose first shot of the game bounced off the hands of the CSUN goalkeeper. Mejia kept his forward run and lofted the ball into the goal off the rebound, putting the Anteaters ahead 1-0. This was Mejia’s second goal of the season.

Mejia almost doubled the lead three minutes later when sophomore midfielder Francesco Montanile whipped in a low cross straight to Mejia in the box. Mejia’s shot, however, went wide off the post.

The Matadors nearly got their equalizer 23 minutes in when Ricketts, who was sprinting down the left side of the box, smashed a solid strike right to Aung. The ball went off his hands straight to the feet of Rhead, whose shot was also stopped by a dive from Aung. The ball was then briskly cleared away by junior defender Eddy Berumen.

The ‘Eaters doubled their lead 29 minutes in after a mistake in the Matador defense by redshirt junior defender Bryan Bustamante. The defender was dispossessed of the ball in his own box by Mejia, who then simply jabbed it past Wenzel for his second goal of the night.

CSUN managed to get on the scoreboard 36 minutes in as freshman forward David Diaz sent a rocket from outside the box to the bottom left side of the goal, which was just out of Aung’s reach. The game would go into the half with the Anteaters up 2-1.

The ‘Eaters were awarded a penalty kick 50 minutes in when Montanile cut inside on his run into the box and was tripped up by redshirt junior midfielder Kanata Furutani. Junior forward Juan Barragan-Manzo got into position to take the penalty kick for UCI. His kick, however, was blocked by Wenzel who dove low and to his left to stop the shot.

UCI managed to sit back and defend their lead for the remainder of the second half with a few key saves from Aung, who was very impressive in his season debut.

Miguel Rodriguez is a Sports Intern for the fall 2022 quarter. He can be reached at