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UCI Men’s Soccer Rallies to 2-0 Win Over Cal Poly as Seasons Winds Down

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UCI Men’s Soccer rallied to a 2-0 win over the Cal Poly Pomona Mustangs at Anteater stadium on Wednesday, Oct. 18,- after having lost their previous game 1-0 to Cal State Northridge, on Saturday, Oct. 14.

Coming into the match, many players on the team believed that a win was needed to build momentum as the regular season closes with its final two games before playoffs. A win here would allow the team’s spirits to rise high while also maintaining a clear and positive consciousness through the remaining season. 

Their enthusiasm to win was felt immediately as the Anteaters asserted pressure on the Mustangs within the first 10 minutes, continuously possessing the ball and accumulating multiple goal attempts. Cal Poly themselves attempted to defend from the ‘Eaters’ ongoing pressure, but as time increased, it was clear that UCI had the determination to dominate the game.  

Keeping with the intensity of the game was junior goalie Luke Pruter, who commanded the field and defense for the Anteaters. Protecting the goalpost as his personal fort, Pruter demonstrated UCI’s intensity while keeping a large presence over the field and pace. His efforts accumulated to three saves off the Mustangs’ five goal attempts. 

Post game, Pruter revealed that he, like many of his other teammates, wished for a “clean sheet as that was our main goal. Especially after conceding [at the] last minute, last game against [Cal State Northridge].” 

 This was prompted after the team’s disappointing loss on Saturday, where Pruter admits the team  “felt like last game our energy was low.” He shared that he didn’t come into the game planning to be commanding, but rather wanted to match the energy the team needed while the team. 

Redshirt senior midfielder Mario Anaya demonstrated a compact and high energy, by scoring the first goal of the game inside the far post 15 minutes in, with an assist from junior midfielder Francesco Montanile and redshirt senior midfielder Oscar Cervantes. The slow shot came as a surprise both to the fans and Anaya himself, who admired the goal with wide eyes and a stiff body. 

After reviewing the goal, Anaya admitted “seeing [the ball] hit the back of the net just eased off the pressure that [the team] was feeling.” With this, Anaya also stated that the goal itself “gave [the team]  a second wind, and I was so happy that it came at that time” as he was able to contribute to the team. 

Regarding his surprising goal, Anaya also admitted that he was “aiming for Eddy [Berumen].

This brush of life followed the team through the remainder of the first half, finishing off with six attempted shots on Cal Poly’s defense and goalie. That’s not to say that the Mustangs themselves did not put pressure on the Anteaters, as they themselves ended the half with two official shots towards UCI’s Pruter. 

The momentum continued into the second half of the game as UCI continued to put an offensive powerhouse on Cal Poly that ultimately ended with junior midfielder Samuel Atiye scoring the game’s second goal at the 57:47 minute mark. Atiye produced a punch shot 12 yards from the center of the goal with assists from graduate midfielder Christian Gomez and junior forward Jake Means. 

Atiye was not part of the starting line up, instead playing as a sub midway through the game. Upon entering the game, Atiye stated that he “actually had no thoughts. I’m more a guy who goes by the movement of the pace of the game. So I try to adjust as fast as possible, and find my own rhythm” in regards to his late entrance, and contribution to the team. 

Regarding scoring, Atiye stated: “I was very happy to score But it was more of a relief for me ultimately that we got the ball to the net” – the goal itself going on to increase the Anteaters lead, as well as continue the teams offensive show and energetic style of play. 

This didn’t stop the Mustangs as they continued in their attempts to score, almost scoring on a penalty box kick at the 86:30 minute mark — while Cal Poly’s own goalie made a great save at around 85 minutes, stopping the ’Eaters from scoring yet another goal. The Cal Poly crowd also showed their frustration, as a suspicious play led to them calling for a penalty, but this was ultimately never rewarded. 

Ultimately, the game finished with a 2-0 win for the Anteaters. UCI ended with nine shots and three saves, while Cal Poly ended with five shots and three saves. With one more away game at Mt. San Antonio College and one last home game against UC San Diego, the Anteaters look to finish strong and enter the Big West Tournament on a high note, keeping the team’s enthusiasm rolling and the skills growing. 

Benjamin Flores is a Sports Intern for the fall 2023 quarter. He can be reached at floresbt@uci.edu.