By: Kevin Contreras, Sports Editor
Tension ran high on Wednesday night, Oct. 13 as UC Riverside’s men’s soccer faced off against the Cal State University, Northridge team in an effort to advance in the Big West Conference. Despite a few technical challenges in their offense, UCR’s defense managed to hold tight enough to gather a victory at the end of the night.
“It wasn’t our best performance from an attacking and possession standpoint. Sometimes, that happens, and we have to focus on other aspects of the game. That’s what we did tonight,” said head coach Tim Cupello.
The Highlanders kicked off the game which quickly became rocky with a few fouls being called early in the game, interrupting play. Both teams struggled to settle into the game and create opportunities for themselves. CSUN took five total shots in the first half, and UCR took four. Both teams struggled to find their rhythm in the first half of the game, and seven fouls were called in favor of the Highlanders and four against.
In the second half, CSUN initiated the gameplay and quickly launched offensively in search of the back of the Highlanders net. UCR’s defense held strong as they managed to ward off the attacks. Soon after, UCR went on an attack of their own, which came to a head in the 47th minute. A free kick in favor of the Highlanders put them in a position to score. Junior midfielder Oscar Penate had the ball on the left side of the field near the opposing team’s goal area, where he completed a lob pass toward the opposite side of the field. Senior midfielder Adolfo Magana leaped into the air and managed to kick the ball towards the goal with an amazing bicycle kick, putting the Highlanders up 1-0.
“We stayed unified and worked for one another. Each guy wanted to make sure he made the effort for his teammate — that’s what earned us the result tonight,” continued Coach Cupello.
UCR’s defence really showed throughout the entirety of the game, managing to hold off the constant attacks from CSUN. The Matadors had a total of 16 shots as opposed to the Highlanders’ nine. The Matadors also had seven more corner kicks than UCR. Stil, even with the constant attacks, UCR managed to gather the win.
“We will focus on staying true to our philosophy and sharpening up our approach for the next match,” said Coach Cupello. “We know it will be a difficult one, so our focus and mental strength will need to be at a high level.”
The Highlanders returned to the pitch to face the Cal State Fullerton Titans and tied 1-1. This leaves UCR in fourth place in the Big West with a record of 3-2-1. The men’s soccer team returns to Riverside for another match on Wednesday, Oct. 20 against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.