The UCR men’s soccer team (8-5-0) and the UC Irvine men’s soccer team (4-9-0) took the field at the UCR Soccer Stadium in a critical match that would determine who would be in the driver’s seat for the second playoff spot in the Big West South division.
The first half saw the Highlanders strike first in the 10th minute when Juan Mendoza and Jimmy Martinez found the team’s leading scorer Aaron Long for his fifth goal of the season.
In the second half Highlander goalkeeper Ashkan Khosravi went down with an injury from a diving save that caused him to collide with a UCI forward. Redshirt freshman Colt Reichl took over in Khosravi’s absence.
The Highlanders then embarked on a furious three-goal rally that commenced when Jose Diaz scored Riverside’s second goal of the match on a penalty kick inside the box. One minute later, Jimmy Martinez scored his first goal of the match to extend the lead to 3-0. 27 seconds later, the Anteaters capitalized on a defensive breakdown to make the score 3-1, which would serve to be a moot point as Jimmy Martinez scored his second goal of the evening to put the game out of reach.
Highlanders coach Junior Gonzalez attributed the second half explosion to “getting more runs in the box and the dangerous areas, and finishing on [our] scoring opportunities” and believes that “there’s no reason we shouldn’t win the rest of [our] matches.”
Oct. 20, 2012
Titans 3 – Highlanders 2
The Highlanders continued their homestand hoping to ride the momentum from Wednesday night’s victory as they took on Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, Oct. 20.
In the second half, Fullerton midfielder Ian Ramos fired a crosser to teammate Jameson Campbell who netted the first goal of the match. The Highlanders showed resolve and found the equalizer no more than 20 seconds later when Eric Gonzalez clanged a shot off the post that rebounded into the waiting foot of Jimmy Martinez.
Things would get no less dramatic when the home crowd roared in disbelief on a handball called against the Highlanders that was issued inside the box at the 86th minute. The Titans capitalized as Ian Ramos scored on the penalty kick. With the game on the line, the Highlanders rallied behind the desperate home crowd for one last free kick to be taken by Eric Gonzalez, subsequently finding Highlander Hayden Leslie who headed the ball in for an unbelievable game-tying goal with 13 seconds to play in regulation.
It took two overtime periods to reach a decision in the contest, when Fullerton defenseman Mark Vasquez fired a shot into Highlander territory off a free kick, finding teammate Gerzon Blanco for the game-clinching score in the 108th minute of the match.
The loss drops the Highlanders to seventh place (2-5-0) in the Big West conference, as they look to bounce back and play their final regular season home game against Cal State Northridge Saturday Oct. 27.