The UC Irvine Men’s Soccer team (5-6-3, 2-3-1) fell to CSU Northridge 0-1 (3-6-6, 1-3-2) at Anteater Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 14. A late goal by CSUN junior forward Jamar Ricketts vaulted the Matadors towards victory.
UCI came into the match riding high off their best performance of the season, having beaten nationally ranked #13 CSU Fullerton 2-1 just three days prior. CSUN came into the match ranked last in the Big West Conference.
The yearlong struggle to score goals persisted for the Anteaters as UCI dominated possession and shots yet failed to see a goal.
UCI junior forward Jake Means had the first two chances on the night for the Anteaters. His first opportunity came in the 20th minute after winning the ball in the midfield from CSUN senior midfielder Kanata Furutani. Means drove the ball forward himself, but his shot lashed over the bar.
The Anteaters focused their play through junior Samuel Atiye and
redshirt senior Oscar Cervantes, two of the team’s midfielders. They played the ball to the wing where the fullbacks pushed up the field, looking for an opportunity to cross the ball toward the goal. The main distributor of the night was redshirt senior defender Eddy Berumen, who peppered in crosses all night into the Matador box. Still, the first half went by without a clear cut chance from either side.
The action peaked when CSUN senior forward Jack Rhead recklessly slid into UCI redshirt freshman midfielder Mauricio Gutierrez. Tempers flared as both sides got into a small scuffle. The result was an automatic red card given to Rhead, causing the Matadors to play with a man down for the rest of the night.
The Anteaters came out of the halftime break more dominant in both possession and chance. Redshirt senior defender Ricardo Ibarra had the first chance to score in the second half with a powerful shot, which CSUN freshman goalkeeper Merrick Cook quickly got down to the ground for the save. Ibarra rode the hot hand again just minutes later, creating a separation from his defender with a nice dribble, but the shot lacked conviction as Cook easily collected the ball.
The onslaught continued in the Matador box, mainly with crosses from Berumen, although the Anteaters struggled to make good contact off these passes. Freshman defender Brady Treinen, the hero in the last match against Fullerton, almost made fireworks again tonight but his shot, following a cross from Ibarra, went just over the bar. The best chance for the Anteaters came from Means who poked his foot at a ball which was in a tantalizing spot in the eight yard box. Unfortunately for the Anteaters, his shot went straight at Cook who managed to push it over the crossbar.
CSUN, being a man down, attempted to catch the Anteaters off guard with counter attacks. Their patience and resilience was finally rewarded when a clearance out of the box went straight to the feet of Ricketts, who used his pace to get by two UCI defenders. He then sent the last defender to the ground with an inside cut and finished off the run, slotting his shot past UCI junior goalkeeper Luke Pruter for the only goal of the night.
UCI attacked in the final minute with a mad scramble, but the sheer number of defenders in the Matador box saw all shots deflected wide until time ran out.
UCI remains in the middle of the pack in the Big West Conference standings. UCI went on to win their next contest 2-0 against Cal Poly at home on the 18th.
Miguel Rodriguez is a Sports Staff Writer. He can be reached at email@example.com.