Oct. 31 2012
Highlanders 4 – Anteaters 3

With the final Big West playoff spot on the line, the men’s soccer team entered Wednesday’s match against the UC Irvine Anteaters in need of a win. The Highlanders got the much needed win by beating the Anteaters 4-3. To earn a postseason berth, the Highlanders must win the next game against Cal State Fullerton because Cal State Northridge defeated Fullerton on Wednesday Oct. 31 to give the Highlanders a shot at the postseason.

Five minutes into the match, led by Eric Gonzalez’s corner kick, Highlander Juan Valladolid found the back of the net on a header to take an early 1-0 lead. Riverside’s lead would evaporate 12 minutes later courtesy of Irvine’s Thom Moreira’s equalizing goal.

Four minutes later the Highlander received another free kick and Juan Mendoza found Humberto Santiago, who gave the Highlanders a 2-1 lead into halftime.

The Anteaters equalized in the second half as Mitchell Alvarez found Christopher Santana in the 54th minute. Contrary to the events of the first half, it would not be the Highlanders, but the Anteaters, who scored the next goal to take a 3-2 lead off the foot of Tarek Morad in the 58th.

The Highlanders would not go away. In the 64th minute, Highlander forward Richie Osborne took over the game and scored the tying goal to send the game into overtime. In overtime Osborne scored yet another clutch goal to keep the Highlanders’ postseason aspirations intact defeating the Anteaters 4-3.

November 3rd, 2012
Titans 2 – Highlanders 1

Winner takes all.

That statement was the driving force in Saturday’s pivotal matchup between the UC Riverside men’s soccer team and the Cal State Fullerton Titans, with the winner advancing to the Big West tournament, and the loser beginning early preparations for the 2013 season.

The Titans struck first, taking a 1-0 lead on Gerzon Blanco’s rebound goal off a blocked shot. The Highlanders could not answer in the first half, and were outshot by the Titans 10-7.

An even deeper hole was dug for the Highlanders when Gerzon Blanco’s header towards the net never cleared the danger area near the UCR goal, allowing Jesse Escalante to extend the lead to 2-0 and score his eighth goal of the season.

Blanco was all over the field in a stellar performance against the Highlanders, accumulating a goal, an assist, and six of the team’s 14 shots in the contest.

Hope was inspired in the Highlanders when Aaron Long scored his sixth goal of the season with help from Ruben Valencia and Richie Osborne. That optimism would fade with every passing second until there was no time left on the clock, signaling the end of the game and the season for the UCR men’s soccer team as an ecstatic Fullerton crowd watched their team earn the final berth in the Big West conference tournament.

The Highlanders finish the season 10-8-0 overall, and 3-7-0 in conference play. Aaron Long led the team in scoring with six goals and one assist.