The UC San Diego men’s soccer team traveled up north to face its last two opponents of the regular season in an attempt to earn a top-two seed and a first-round bye in the conference tournament coming up this week. Two wins over Cal State East Bay and Cal State Monterey Bay would have secured the Tritons a first-round bye; however, they were stopped just short of the second seed. On Thursday, the Tritons got business done with a 4–1 victory over East Bay, but on Saturday they were held scoreless in a 0–0 draw against Monterey Bay. As a result, UCSD earned the third seed and will not have a first-round bye.
Game v. East Bay
The Tritons needed some good results on Thursday and they got just that, thanks to a great response after going down 1–0 in the opening 20 minutes of the game. East Bay’s goal came from a rebound that kindly fell into the path of Pioneer’s striker, who was able to tap it in from close range to give his team the early lead. An East Bay goal against UCSD is a bit of a rarity as, up to that point, the Tritons had held the Pioneer’s scoreless for over nine games, amounting to 847 minutes of play.
UCSD’s response did not come until about five minutes remaining in the first half, as freshman forward Jonathan Sabouri leveled the match at 1–1 after receiving a wonderful diagonal ball from senior forward Uly de la Cal who, at about the edge of the six-yard box, tapped it in from close range for UCSD’s first goal. Then with a minute remaining in the half, De La Cal would get in the act as he made the best out of a poor clearance from the Pioneer defense, receiving the ball on left side of the 18-yard box and hitting a shot from distance to beat the goalkeeper at his near post.
Sabouri would prove to be the man of the match; he was able to knock in a couple more goals to earn his first-ever hat trick, an impressive feat for the freshman. His second goal was a lovely display of skill: He received the ball about 50 yards from goal and, with his back to the goal, got past the first defender with a wonderful turn to the inside and beat him out with pace towards goal. He then sidestepped another defender and curled the ball from outside the 18-yard box to the bottom right corner. The freshman’s third goal came courtesy of a through pass from redshirt senior forward Malek Bashti.
Game v. Monterey Bay
In a must-win game for the Tritons, they came up short. Unlike their game against Cal State East Bay, they could not buy themselves a goal on that day.
The Tritons held the shot advantage at 15–5 after the two periods of extra time. On a couple of occasions, UCSD had their shots hit the bar, unlucky to not go in. But, it simply was not meant to be that day, as the game ended with a 0–0 draw and UCSD fell to the third seed.
As the third seed, the Tritons will face San Francisco State University on Tuesday night, Oct. 31, as they begin their quest for a second straight California Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament crown. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.