For the first time in recent memory, the UCSD men’s soccer team sits atop of the table of the CCAA South Division.
Recording its fourth straight win, the No. 10 nationally ranked Tritons (6-1-1 overall, 4-1-1 in conference) won both of its weekend matches.
UCSD head coach Jon Pascale seems to have struck upon a formula — one that combines a back line that has only allowed two goals in eight games, the energy of new attackers and a focus on set pieces — that has yielded impressive dividends.
Last Friday, the Tritons defeated Humboldt State 2–0. UCSD’s first goal came late in the first half from senior midfielder Cory Wolfrom, who finished the ball inside the 16-yard box. The second goal came courtesy of junior transfer Alessandro Canale — recently returned from the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup — who collected on a cross from freshman Gerrit van Zyll and slotted the ball low in the corner.
Pascale spoke highly of new attackers Canale and van Zyll, noting that the two have given the Tritons some edge in the attacking third.
“Having Alessandro Canale back has been great — he brings a different dimension to the team, and van Zyll has really played himself into the mix,” Pascale said.
Senior All-American Josh Cohen was tasked to make five saves in the shutout match.
The following Sunday, Cohen again figured prominently in the Tritons’ 1–0 win over Sonoma State. The goalkeeper was only credited for two saves, but battled in the air to intercept Sonoma crosses throughout the match.
Sonoma, a school with a long history of strong soccer teams, appeared to be the dominant squad from the whistle, but after senior midfielder Andisheh Bagheri buried a free kick from 25 yards out, the momentum swung in favor of the Tritons.
UCSD recorded 10 more attempts in the second half, including five from van Zyll, who came in off the bench.
“It was a game between two good teams, and I think the game reflected that,” Pascale said. “They had their spells where they were getting at us, and we had our spells where we were getting at them, and we were fortunate to get a goal.”
The Tritons head back on the road to face Cal State Stanislaus — last season’s CCAA tournament champion — and Cal State East Bay this weekend.
Despite Stanislaus’ 3-4-1 record, Pascale expects a difficult match from the Warriors.
“Stanislaus is a little bit better than their results, so we’re excited to get out there and get after them,” he said.