The Highlanders were shut out by the University of San Diego’s strong, physical defense in an intense 1-0 match on Friday, Sept. 27. This loss is only the team’s third of the season.
UC Riverside Soccer Stadium was filled with excited fans who chanted and sang even through an uneventful first half, up until the very last minute of the match. It only took four minutes in the second half for the University of San Diego Toreros (7-1-0) to score after an aggressive drive into the box. The goal was preceded by a number of foul calls on both teams, a possible reflection of the rising tensions on the field.
The Toreros proved to be an absolute match for the Highlanders as their final stats mirrored one another’s almost perfectly. Both teams recorded 12 shots, three saves and eight fouls. However, the Highlanders suffered a significant six offsides calls while the Toreros only committed one.
The Highlanders were aided by junior midfielder, Daniel Aguirre, who returned from injury to contribute four shot attempts. The team made aggressive attempts to score to no avail until the 75th minute, when senior forward Roberto Garcia-Vargas made a shot after an interception in the box that electrified the crowd but flew just shy of the goal.
Just five minutes later, the tensions of the game reached a climax when frustrated senior goalie Edwyn Gutierrez pushed a Torero after an inaudible but clearly passionate verbal exchange on the field. The Highlanders scuffled for a last minute opportunity but were hit with two more fouls and were unable to score.
Senior forward Olli Pirinens said in an interview with The Highlander, “Nothing comes easy but we’re building. We really wanted to win and didn’t get results but we’re a good team.”
The Highlanders will begin the wrap up of their non-conference schedule with an away game against UCLA (3-4-1) on Tuesday, Oct. 1.