Tritons Snap Skid to Save Playoff Hopes

    Regardless of whom they were playing, where they were playing or how they accomplished it, the UCSD men’s soccer team desperately needed a win. With a victory, the team would keep its dwindling playoff chances alive, but with a defeat, the proverbial writing would have been on the wall.

    Jason Campa/Guardian
    The Tritons ended their seven-game losing streak with a small but significant 1-0 win on Oct. 13 in their fourth double-overtime game on the season. Sophomore midfielder Michael Grubic kept pressure on the Golden Eagles to improve UCSD’s overall record to 7-7-2.

    Fortunately, the Tritons got that win, and it just so happened to be against first place Cal State Los Angeles in double-overtime in front of a home crowd at Triton Soccer Stadium on Oct. 13. UCSD got a golden goal from senior midfielder Mark Moreira one minute into the second overtime to seal the 1-0 victory, its fourth double-overtime victory of the season.

    The Tritons scored their lone goal when freshman midfielder Tony Choi played a ball through the box, allowing Moreira to blast a shot from seven yards out for the win.

    Choi, who came in from off the bench to provide the winning assist, was happy to be back on the winning side of match.

    “We were just excited to find out what winning was like again.” Choi said. “We hope to make this a habit.”

    The goal was Moreira’s team-leading seventh of the season.

    “Mark [Moreira] came in with 10 minutes left in regulation so he had fresh legs and was able to put the pressure on,” Choi said.

    The match featured plenty of scoring opportunities, with the Golden Eagles outshooting the Tritons 18-14. The Tritons got a solid game from freshman goalkeeper Joshua Vasquez, who minded the net for the entire 101 minutes of the match, earning the first shutout of his career. Vasquez made 11 saves, including six in the two overtime periods.

    According to Choi, a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Cal State Los Angeles on Sept. 24 pressed the struggling Triton squad to intensify their play.

    “We went into the game looking to play our best and avenge our loss to them earlier in the season,” Choi said.

    UCSD seemed to be the fresher team in the overtime periods, asserting their dominance on both ends of the field.

    “We came out really fired up for both overtimes and just wanted it more than they did,” Choi said.

    Head coach Derek Armstrong again made several offensive-minded lineup changes in an attempt to jumpstart the struggling Triton offense, including playing senior defenseman Devon Cook at midfield. This move fared well for the Tritons, as Cook contributed to the offensive attack and led the team with five shots, two of which were on goal.

    The win was the Tritons’ first in their past seven matches and upped their California Collegiate Athletic Association record to 5-6-2 and their overall record to 7-7-2. UCSD now stands in fifth place in the South Division of the CCAA, four points behind Cal Poly Pomona and Cal State Los Angeles for the final playoff spot in the division. The loss dropped Cal State Los Angeles out of first place to second place, one point behind league-leading Cal State Dominguez Hills. The Tritons will need to win their final three matches of the season and get some help from other teams in the conference to earn a playoff berth.

    The Tritons played their final home game of the season on Oct. 15 against Cal State Bakersfield, one of the teams they are chasing in the South Division standings. Results were not available at press time.

    Choi, who realized the obvious importance of the final regular season games, emphasized the need for the Tritons to remain calm and play to their limits.

    “This is a huge game for the seniors and for the entire team, but we are trying to stay focused and approach it like every other game,” Choi said.

    The Tritons will finish their season with two road games that will likely determine whether they will earn a postseason berth. UCSD will travel to San Francisco State on Oct. 20 and finish the regular season against Cal State Monterey Bay on Oct. 22.

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