The UC Riverside men’s soccer team squared off against Cal State University, Bakersfield on Sunday, Sept. 23 for their final non-conference match of the year. UC Riverside was 7-0-0 for the first time in its 12 year Division I history before being shutout at home 0-2. Bakersfield owns UC Riverside on the one-on-one matchup. Riverside is now 0-5-1 against the Roadrunners and have stretched their four game losing streak to five games.
Their last meeting against the Roadrunners was at CSU Bakersfield in 2011. The Highlanders went on to lose, 1-5. The Highlanders looked to finally beat their tough opponent but started off the match on rocky shores when they allowed a goal at the 1:11 mark. CSU Bakersfield had the upper hand in the match as they controlled the game and dribbled down to Riverside’s goal quite often.
At the first period UCR only had five shots and one corner kick compared to the Roadrunners’ nine shots and two corner kicks. Roadrunner Gyasi Zardes found teammate Kory Kindle for the first score of the game. Zardes at the left side centered the ball to Kindle who then scored from nine yards out.
The next goal was completed when Jesus Sanchez passed to teammate Zardes who then passed it back to Sanchez for a give and go right in front of the box. Sanchez finally passed it to Kindle 10 yards out on the left side for the final goal.
Head coach Junior Gonzalez was asked about the first period of the match, “Well anytime you let a goal early in the few minutes of the match, it puts you on your heels. But the next 15 minutes I thought we played very well after the goal.” Coach Gonzalez continued, “the two things you don’t want to do is give up an early goal and a late goal. It gives us no cushion but we were dealing with a team with a strong attack and it was a good test for us going into the Big West Conference and to prepare for Santa Barbara.”
The entire match was physical and fast paced. UCR had five yellow cards drawn and CSUB had two yellow cards. At one point in the game, Highlander Otis Earle was running towards a ball that was passed to him with the intent to score, but the Roadrunner goalkeeper Eric Shannon grabbed the ball before Earle could reach it and they smacked into each other, knocking Earle to the floor.
Coach Gonzalez was asked about the physical play toward the end of the match. “That was another technical error. He was right in front of the goal. If the ball was played better Earle would have tried to finish. We’re not panicking though, we just need to make sure to prepare. But I have learned a lot and the team has learned a lot but our main focus is to win the Big West Conference,” he said.
Big West Conference play begins this weekend for the Highlanders as they host #3 UC Santa Barbara on Friday, Sept. 28 at 8 p.m. and Cal Poly on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 1 p.m.