UC Riverside Men’s Soccer gear up for the post season with their last few matchups

By: Kevin Contreras, Sports Editor

The Highlander Men’s soccer team suffered slight disappointments this past week, advancing further in the Big West Conference. As the season heads towards the post-season tournament, UCR’s men’s soccer seeks to recreate their 2018 tournament victory. The teams fueled by the season they missed last year due to the pandemic to excel both on and off the field.

Joshua Wang/The Highlander

”We are always pursuing excellence within our program. We’ve won Big West Championships in the past. We’ve been out serving the community a lot; we’ve earned a cumulative team GPA above 3.3 over the past two years,” said head coach Tim Cupello. “We are looking forward to the opportunity to win on and off the field again this year, and represent our amazing university well.”

UCR’s first match of this past week was against the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Mustangs on Wednesday night, Oct. 20. The lights shone bright in the Riverside Sports Complex as the Highlanders found an early lead in the 12th minute. Junior midfielder Oscar Penate found himself with the ball near the opponents net where he passed it to senior midfielder Leopolda Hernadez who converted that into a goal. UCR’s 1-0 lead did not last long as three minutes later, the Mustangs would find a goal of their own. The Highlanders fought hard to score and get ahead but were unable to. They fought hard, taking a total of 16 shots throughout the game, seven of those being on goal. The game ended 1-1 after two 10 minute overtime halves.

The Highlanders’ next matchup was against UC Santa Barbara. For this, the team had to go up north to face off against the Gauchos for their last away game of the season. UCR started the game strong, consistently attacking the net whilst deflecting the opponents counterattacks. This lasted well into the game, but UCSB managed to break through and find a goal in the 32nd minute of the game. UCR tried to tie but ended the first half down 1-0.

In the second half, UCR seemed to be an entirely different team and managed to find two back to back goals in the 47th and 49th minute of the game. Junior defender Freymar Omarsson managed to get in front of the net with the ball and tap it in, tying the game. Shortly after, junior midfielder Herminio Padilla found an opening from behind the goal area and managed to launch it into the net, putting UCR up 2-1. The Highlanders fought to stay in the lead, but the Gauchos managed to lead the ball toward the net and tie the game in the 65 minute. Both teams were eager to get the upper hand, but unfortunately, UCSB scored the game winning shot in the 75th minute. The Highlanders lost 3-2 in their final away game of the regular season.

The UCR men’s soccer team will have their final game of the season in the Riverside Sports Complex on Saturday, Oct. 30 against UC San Diego. Head coach Cupello is confident in his team’s ability and his team’s support from the community.
“Our on-campus experience and the energy that the student body brings to our home games is second to none. Our sport has a huge fan base in this community and we can’t wait to represent them well,” said Cupello.

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