UCSD blows 2-0 lead in 86th minute against Pomona

    Despite a 3-2 double-overtime loss to the Cal Poly Pomona Broncos on Oct. 25, the UCSD men’s soccer team looks poised to gain a spot in the California Collegiate Athletic Association playoffs with two games against league foes in the next week.

    Following road losses to Cal State San Bernardino and Cal State Monterey Bay on Oct. 6 and Oct. 10, it looked like the Tritons would have to stay home in November during the CCAA Championship. Since then, the Tritons have gone 2-2 with overtime losses in their last two games. However, Chico State and Cal State Los Angeles, the Tritons’ main competition for a playoff spot, have both been playing subpar soccer, keeping UCSD in the hunt. This caliber of play is not typical of UCSD, which played well in late October last year, going 5-1-0 and earning a spot in the CCAA playoffs, and eventually the NCAA playoffs.

    The Tritons were hoping for a similar ending this year, but the Broncos poured onto RIMAC Field, where UCSD was previously undefeated, and played the role of spoilers.

    The first period looked like each of the Tritons’ last four games, with a scoreless first half. Each team had nine shots, but both defenses shut down every scoring opportunity. So far this year, Triton defense has dominated through both halves, keeping UCSD in games that it could have easily lost.

    The game against the Broncos, however, did not stay scoreless for long after the start of the second half. Triton sophomore midfielder German Bravo took a rebound off a save by Broncos goalie Jeff Coombs and tapped it to the back of the net to give UCSD a 1-0 lead in the 57th minute. Junior midfielder Matthew Davey and sophomore defenseman Dustin Tannenhaus were credited with assists.

    Less than 10 minutes later, the Triton offense took advantage of a scoring opportunity and lengthened UCSD’s lead on a beautifully placed lob shot over Coombs by junior forward Jon Krupansky, who was set up by junior midfielder Grant Nishio.

    With a 2-0 lead in the 65th minute and a home crowd behind them, the Tritons were poised to win the game and gain momentum going into the playoffs. The Broncos would not quit, however, and slowly cut away at the Tritons’ lead. Broncos midfielder Dustin Venegas took advantage of a UCSD turnover and turned it into an unassisted goal that cut the Tritons’ lead in half in the 70th minute.

    Cal Poly Pomona didn’t stop there, netting another goal in the 86th minute to knot the match up at two goals apiece. Once again it was Venegas who scored on UCSD senior goalie Scott Mazurier, this time off a free kick.

    “The first goal was a stupid mistake, and that gave them momentum,” Mazurier said. “Then they came at us strong because they had nothing to lose and we weren’t very organized. We kind of lost our control and confidence.”

    Mazurier had six saves in the game, but eventually allowed the winning score to Broncos midfielder Ben Van Der Fluit at the 105:49 minute mark in the second overtime period. Midfielder Joe DeVito lined a perfect pass to Van Der Fluit, who netted the ball from 12 yards out.

    “Our morale took a hit because that was a game we definitely should have won,” senior defenseman/midfielder Nick Marquand said.

    Despite the loss, Marquand feels confident that the Tritons can learn from their mistakes and make the playoffs.

    “With the playoffs coming and the expectation that we will make it again this year, this loss will teach us what we need to do to be successful when we get there,” he said. “In the long run this is a game that we will take many lessons from.”

    The Tritons’ next two games come against a strong Cal State San Bernardino team, which the Tritons lost to earlier in the year, and the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners. Bakersfield is currently second in the South Division of the CCAA and has already clinched a spot in the CCAA Championship tournament. The Cal State Los Angeles Golden Eagles are one point behind the Tritons in the South Division standings and will play first-place Cal State Dominguez Hills and Cal State San Bernardino in their next two games.

    According to Marquand, the Golden Eagles have a more experienced team with older players, but the Tritons are not worried about that.

    “At this point we control our own destiny, and that’s all we need to know going into our next few games,” he said.

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