The UC Riverside men’s soccer team faced off against the # 3 ranked UC Santa Barbara for their first Big West opponent Friday, Sept. 28 at the UC Riverside soccer stadium. Their last meeting was at UCSB Oct. 22, 2011, where Riverside went on to beat the Gauchos, 3-2. UCR was looking to beat the Gauchos for the second time at home but they ended up losing the game, 1-3.
UC Riverside played a wonderful first half of the match with two corner kicks by the 28 minute mark and three total at the end of the first period. UCSB had more shots in the period, and their aggressiveness paid off as they scored first goal of the game.
The Highlanders kept up an aggressive offense, bringing them back into the match when Riverside scored at the 21:13 mark. Ruben Valencia received a pass from Hayden Leslie in the box from 11 yards out as he headed the ball in for his fourth goal of the season.
Towards the end of the first period things got heated between UCR’s Jose Diaz and UCSB’s Daniel Welsh, as they were pushing and elbowing each other.
The first period was tough for the Highlanders but it got even tougher in the second when they played with a man down. UCSB player Nic Ryan scored for the Gauchos at the 69:41 mark. 10 minutes later, Highlander Ivan Garcia received a red card and was ejected. The Gauchos capitalized on the ejection as they scored once more to put the game away.
Sept. 30, 2012
Highlanders 2 – Mustangs 1
The men’s soccer team continued their weekend play in what turned out to be a showdown. On Sunday, Riverside went against their second Big West opponent, Cal Poly. The Highlanders found themselves down, 1-2, at the end of the first period, but fought their way back to win in overtime, 3-2.
Cal Poly scored the first goal of the match but a minute later Highlander Eric Gonzalez found Leslie Hayden for his second goal of the season. On a corner kick, Gonzalez found teammate Hayden, who jumped up in the air and headed the ball in the goal from six yards out.
Riverside started off the second period down, 1-2, but only minutes into the second the Highlanders equalized bounced back to a 2-2 tie. No goal was scored and the match was forced into overtime.
UCR started with the ball in overtime and didn’t hesitate as they drove down to score the game winning goal. Highlander Juan Mendoza passed it to Earle Otis, who was one-on-one, and kicked the ball five yards out for his second goal of the season.
Coach Junior Gonzalez was asked about the game and finally beating Cal Poly after a six game losing streak to the Mustangs. “All of the Big West conference teams are solid, but it felt good. We showed how we are able to equalize.”
Highlander Otis was asked about the game winning goal, “I thought I hadn’t played much throughout the game but it was a good challenge for me to be there for the team.”