Triton Men Fall to Golden Eagles in CCAA Tournament Opener

UCSD men’s soccer team drops a heartbreaking 3-1 loss, effectively ending their pursuit of the CCAA crown.

Photo by Megan Lee
Photo by Megan Lee

 

The UCSD men’s soccer team ended its bid for the California Collegiate Athletic Association crown on a disappointing 3–1 loss in the first round of the league tournament at Cal State Los Angeles this past Tuesday. The Tritons managed to creep into the CCAA tournament as the lowest seed after last Saturday’s game between Chico State and San Francisco State ended in a 1–1 overtime draw. With the loss, the Tritons effectively end their season at an even 6–6–6 record, while Cal State Los Angeles improves to 12–3–2 and moves on in the tournament to face Cal Poly Pomona this Friday.

The teams stayed at a scoreless deadlock for the first 45 minutes of Tuesday’s play. Junior defense Samuel Kersh then broke through for the Golden Eagles in the 52nd minute, hitting the target off an assist by senior defense Kaan Gultoprak. Cal State Los Angeles continued its run in the 76th minute as senior midfielder Eduardo Almaraz sent a shot home and increased its lead to three as Gultoprak fired one in at 82:18.

The Tritons barely avoided a shutout when junior midfielder Nick Palano shot the ball into the back of the net off an assist by sophomore forward Uly de la Cal in the 87th to decrease the deficit to two. It was Palano’s second goal of the season; he had tallied the first in the Tritons’ last matchup against Cal State Los Angeles on Oct. 4.

“We made a couple of little mistakes, and [Cal State Los Angeles makes] you pay,” UCSD Head Coach Jon Pascale told the UCSD Athletics Department. “The first half was pretty even. We were playing well in the second half but gave up an unnecessary free kick, and they converted on what was kind of a freak deflection. We had an unbelievable chance right after and couldn’t convert. It was there for us. They were able to put it away after that.”

UCSD is 2–6–2 in eight CCAA championship appearances. This marks the third straight year that the Golden Eagles have ended the Tritons’ season — they downed UCSD in the first round of the NCAA Championship in 2014 and denied UCSD the CCAA crown in the league final in 2013. The Tritons have no seniors on their roster this year and will return to the field in 2016 with a seasoned group of players to vie for the CCAA title once again.

“All in all, I’m happy with what this team was able to accomplish,” Pascale commented. “We are a young team that battled through some adversity. A lot of guys played a lot of minutes and got some good experience. We beat some really good teams along the way.”