After a strong 4-0-2 start to their 2013 campaign, the UC Riverside men’s soccer team matched its 2012 counterpart in going undefeated through the first six games.
The Highlanders’ first win of the regular season came on Aug. 30, against the Iona Gaels. Freshman Romario Lomeli scored the first and only goal of the game in the 74th minute. As an added bonus to the win, goalkeeper KC John would also earn his first shutout of the season.
Next up on the schedule for the Highlanders was a home tilt against the Marist Red Foxes on Sept. 1. Romario Lomeli and Ivan Garcia found Aaron Long for UCR’ s first score. The Highlanders would add an insurance goal in the 72nd minute when Romario Lomeli scored his second goal of the season.
A trip to Las Vegas at the UNLV Nike International followed, with their first match against Georgia Tech on Sept. 5. Hector Romo and Ulises Mosqueda scored the two goals for the Highlanders en route to their third straight shutout with the 2-0 victory.
In their final match of the UNLV Invitational, the Highlanders battled the Bradley Braves. Tied 2-2 and likely headed to overtime in the final seconds, Ivan Garcia came through in the clutch for the Highlanders and scored the game-winning goal to keep the team undefeated.
The first tie of the season came for UCR when they faced off against the San Diego Toreros on Sept. 13. Two San Diego players received red cards in the second overtime, but UCR just could not get the job done, ending the game at 0-0.
Taking the field against CSU Bakersfield on Sept. 19, the Highlanders hoped to end a five-game losing streak against the Roadrunners. Alex Flores put the Roadrunners on the board first with his goal in the 23rd minute. However, Aaron Long was able to knot up the score with a successful penalty kick in the 43rd minute, which would end the contest in a tie. In their fourth home game of the season, UCR remained undefeated beating UNLV 2-1 on Sept. 22.
Head coach Tim Cupello attributes the Highlanders’ success to “maturity, discipline and buy-in from each player on the team.”
With a strong start to the season, the team is now hoping to keep the ball rolling and avoid a finish akin to last season’s meltdown, when they lost eight of their last 11 games and were eliminated from playoff contention.