Tritons Come Up Empty on Road Trip

In any sport, finding wins on the road can prove to be a difficult challenge. The UCSD men’s soccer team, unfortunately, is finding this time-tested sporting fact out the hard way. After an impressive 2-0 win against Western Washington University at home on Sept. 20, the Tritons dropped their next two matches on the road against Cal State Bakersfield and Cal State Los Angeles with identical scores of 2-0. The Tritons’ record fell to 6-3-1 overall and 4-2-1 in California Collegiate Athletic Association play. Despite the poor road play, UCSD still sits atop the CCAA South Division, maintaining a narrow lead over Cal State Los Angeles.

Arash Keshmirian/Guardian
Despite some troubles on the road, including their recent loss to Cal State Los Angeles on Sept. 25, the Tritons have kept their focus and continue to push forward in hope of maintaining their lead atop the California Collegiate Athletic Association’s South Division.

In their most recent match against Cal State Los Angeles on Sept. 24, the Tritons fell victim to their inability to finish scoring chances. UCSD outshot the Golden Eagles 11-10 and took six more corner kicks, but failed to put any balls in the back of the net. Despite UCSD’s inability to score goals, freshman midfielder Tony Choi did not blame the team’s offensive effort for the loss.

“We just hit a dry spell after playing well offensively,” Choi said. “We had our chances but just could not finish.”

Forward Morten Marthisen put the Golden Eagles on top early on, scoring the first of his two goals only 10 minutes into the match. He added another in the 87th minute, when the Tritons were forced to step up their offensive intensity. Choi gave credit to Marthisen and the Golden Eagles for taking control early.

“We made some uncharacteristic defensive mistakes and they were able to take advantage of that,” Choi said.

In their first road match of the CCAA season, the Tritons were traveled to Cal State Bakersfield, which boasted an undefeated home record of 4-0-0 going into the match. UCSD fought hard but was unable to score the key road win, losing the match 2-0. The Roadrunners got second-half goals from forward Towa Manda and defender Javier Barba, and played strong defense to ensure the home victory.

“Playing on the road is always tough because the other team is used to playing on their home field all the time,” Choi said.

The hostile environment, coupled with the Tritons’ offensive ineptitude, led to their eventual demise.

“We failed to execute our game plan, which made it even tougher to win on the road,” Choi said.

Before UCSD embarked on its road trip, the team looked to take care of business at home against Western Washington University at the Triton Soccer Stadium on Sept. 20. The Tritons featured a suffocating defense, but the real difference again proved to be Choi, who scored his first goal of the match seven minutes in, giving the Tritons the early lead. Senior forward Mark Moreira played a crossing shot that sophomore midfielder Jonathan Sawyer flicked into the left side of the box, where Choi was waiting and finished the play off. Western Washington University was able to even the score at one goal apiece when Viking forward Gus Zadra beat freshman goalkeeper Joshua Vasquez.

But Choi and the rest of the Tritons refused to walk off the field with anything less than a win and struck again in the 80th minute. Choi took a ball from Moreira 15 yards out and snuck another goal by freshman goalkeeper Christian Warman. Choi, a newcomer from Folsom, Calif., has proven to be a force to be reckoned with in his first collegiate season, connecting four times.

“It’s sometimes tough to score in our 4-5-1 formation, but I just try and play hard and take my chances when I am given the opportunity,” Choi said.

The Tritons will need Choi and the rest of the team to be in top form as they return home for a brief home stand, beginning with CCAA defending champions Sonoma State on Sept. 29 at 4:30 p.m. The Tritons will look to avenge last year’s loss to Sonoma State in the CCAA semifinals, which ended their season. UCSD then plays Humboldt State on Oct. 1 at 11 a.m.