The UCR men’s soccer team (2-12-1, 2-5-1) got a 2-1 victory at home Saturday, Oct. 14 against Cal State Fullerton (8-6-3, 3-3-2). The Highlanders followed that win with a 1-0 loss on the road on Wednesday, Oct. 18 against Cal State Northridge (9-6-2, 4-2-2).

In the game against Fullerton, the Highlanders were able to get out to an early lead after sophomore forward Olli Pirinen scored on a penalty kick within the first five minutes of the game. Fullerton was not able to get on the scoreboard until the 56-minute mark, when junior forward Samuel Goni put one in the back of the net off of a cross to tie the game at 1-1. The game went back and forth until the 79-minute mark, when senior midfielder Ricardo Ruiz set up redshirt senior defender James Alewine III for his first goal of his career, which just so happened to be the game-winner in the 2-1 match.

In the match on Wednesday, Oct. 18  against Northridge, the Highlanders failed to come out with a win. The Matadors got on the board early against the Highlanders in the 10th minute due to a goal off of a free kick from junior midfielder Julio Rubio. After the initial goal, Riverside was able to keep Northridge scoreless for the remainder of the game.

Although the Highlanders weren’t able to get on the scoreboard, their four shots on goal were the second most against an in-conference opponent, and this performance set the season high shots-on-goal percentage.  Another positive from that night is the fact they only allowed one goal, which is the lowest amount of goals allowed on the road in their past six games.

Associate Men’s Soccer Head Coach Ryan Carruth said that he takes pride in the competitiveness of every match despite the amount of losses. “It’s hard to look at results and see the whole story a lot of times,” Carruth explains. “There’s a sense we’ve been competitive in every match and our game at Northridge is a good example of that. We had a lot of good chances, didn’t take our chances and we lost 1-0.”

Although the staff has been happy with the competitiveness of every match, they know that the team still needs to improve to get wins. One area Carruth wants to see improvement in is, “taking our chances. Just be strong defensively, be stingy defensively, and just take our chances.”

The Highlanders have been inconsistent on both sides of the ball this season and it could be seen in the back-to-back results in games against UC Davis (8-7-2, 5-2-1) and UC Irvine (7-7-3, 2-4-2) back on Oct. 7 and 11. In the first game against Davis, Riverside was able to play stingy defense and take advantage of their offensive chances to earn a 2-0 win. They followed that victory with a tough 4-0 loss on the road against Irvine.

Despite having the worst win percentage in the conference, Riverside still has a fighter’s chance to make it into the Big West tournament. The top three teams from both the North and South Divisions qualify for The Big West Tournament and, as of Oct. 22, the Highlanders are only one point behind UC Irvine for the third place spot in the Big West South. Carruth says that the team is definitely optimistic about their chances. “We’ve been playing well all along. Obviously the results haven’t gone in our favor, but we still have a lot of belief in the group.”

The Highlanders’ get an opportunity to surpass UC Irvine at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 25 at the Riverside Sports Complex. A win would put UCR two points ahead of Irvine going into their final game of the regular season against Northridge, Saturday, Oct. 28.