Categorized | Soccer, Sports

UC San Diego offense outlasts UH-Hilo as Tritons secure 3-2 win

LA JOLLA, Calif. – The UC San Diego men’s soccer team, after pulling out of a 1-1 halftime stalemate with a pair of spectacular scores to start the second half, held on for a tight 3-2 non-conference victory over Hawaii Hilo Monday night. The Tritons improve to 2-0-0 with the win while UHH, a member of the Pacific West Conference, falls to 0-2-0.

“The offense was flowing a lot better tonight,” UCSD head coach Jon Pascale said. “We thought we were a bit disconnected last time out so we went back to working on the basics at practice. We saw two of our three goals tonight turn out to be kind of highlight-reel scores so it was pretty fun to watch.”

The Tritons’ offense got started early Monday, with junior defender Jared Kukura knocking in the match’s first score at the 7:42 mark. Senior forward Chris Gutierrez earned the assist on the play after using some fancy footwork to move past his defender into an open space in the right corner of the field and make a low cross into the box. Kukura, trailed by a defender, managed to get a foot on the Gutierrez pass and deflect the ball enough to arc it over UHH junior goalkeeper Dane Kaylor. For Gutierrez, having played as a defender the past two years, the assist was his first career point, while Kukura picked up his fourth career score.

The Vulcans rallied back roughly 20 minutes later with a score from junior forward Logan Montenegro. UHH freshman midfielder Roberto Valdez, controlling the ball with his back to the net, managed to flick a pass to Montenegro waiting five yards to the right. A one-timer from Montenegro skipped to the left of diving senior goalkeeper Peter Akman to tie the match at 1-1.

UHH found another scoring opportunity late in the half on a give and go between freshman Roberto Valdez and junior George Ichimaru. This time though Akman was able to deflect the ball away with his right hand after Ichimaru lined a shot to the left side of the net from about 15 yards out.

The intensity of the match heightened in the second half on both sides and once again, the UCSD attack struck first. After Ivan Mercado, who replaced Kaylor as UHH goalkeeper at halftime, sent an errant pass in front of the center line, Triton junior midfielder Brandon Yee took advantage. Knocking the ball down with his chest, Yee then settled it on the ground and blasted a shot into the upper left corner of the net from about 35 yards out to take back the lead for UCSD, 2-1. It was Yee’s fourth career score.

Two Triton freshmen sent the home crowd into another frenzy roughly 13 minutes later when midfielder Kian Malek dribbled down the right side and sent a high cross into the box, where forward Evan Walker met the pass at full speed to send a header past Mercardo to stretch the advantage to 3-1. Both Malek and Walker earned their first points as Tritons on the play.

Through the chippy play before and after the two scores, including the distribution of two yellow cards, the Vulcans found a way to tack on their second goal of the night, a one-timer from Montenegro that beat Akman to his left side. Despite the lead closing to one score, the Tritons held on for the victory and walked off with a 2-0-0 record.

UCSD will compete at the Seawolf Classic this weekend on the campus of California Collegiate Athletic Association member Sonoma State. The Tritons will challenge Notre Dame de Namur on Friday at 1:30 p.m. before taking on Grand Canyon at 11:30 a.m. Sunday. This past Saturday, GCU knocked off Cal State Dominguez Hills, the 2008 NCAA Division II National Champions.

Soccer Box Score (Final)
2009 UC San Diego Soccer
Hawaii Hilo vs UC San Diego (Aug 31, 2009 at La Jolla, Calif.)

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