Early Goals Keep Men’s Soccer From Big Upset

Junior midfielder Jason Le and the Tritons had little to cheer about after junior forward Tom Caplan (right) separated his shoulder against Sonoma State on Oct. 7. (Eric Rounds/Guardian)

Having been shut out
in its past two games, the UCSD men’s soccer team finally broke out of its
shooting slump but still fell short in a 1-2 loss against No. 21 Sonoma State
on Oct. 7. The loss dropped the Tritons’ overall record to 2-8-2, 1-5-2 in
California Collegiate Athletic Association play, and put a damper on the team’s
postseason hopes.

The Tritons lost
junior captain Tom Caplan to a separated shoulder after he was tackled early in
the match. Play continued as the referee did not blow his whistle to allow
Caplan to receive treatment. The incident essentially forced the Tritons to
scramble with 10 healthy players on the field. The onfield injury opened up the
Tritons’ defense, which gave up a goal just four minutes into the game.

Interim head coach Paul
Holohan questioned whether Sonoma
knew of Caplan’s

“I don’t know what
they realized but he was on the ground in obvious pain,” Holohan said. “I don’t
know what they did know or what they didn’t know.”

Senior captain Josh
Levy was very frustrated about the

“[Caplan] landed on
his shoulder and it popped out,” Levy said. “The [referee] didn’t stop the play
and we were all trying to stop it and they went to the goal and scored.”

In the second half,
the Tritons gave up another goal within the first two minutes to fall behind
0-2. However, sophomore midfielder Tony Choi scored his first goal of the
season to help the Tritons claw back to 1-2. That was as close as the team got
to a victory as it only managed to get off two more shots for the rest of the

Levy believed that
the two goals allowed were not hard-earned, with the first coming while Caplan
was down and the second coming from close range when the Triton defense
inexplicably collapsed.

“The second goal was
just another little error,” he said. “One guy wasn’t marking his man and the
guy was wide open and took a shot and scored.”

Despite the loss,
Holohan was very proud of the way the team played against one of the best teams
in the region.

“We played
excellent,” Holohan said. “We put in a great effort against probably the best
team in the region. I believe a tie would have been a fair result.”

According to
Holohan, the Tritons finally scored their first goal in the past three games by
altering their offensive game plan by using Choi differently.

“We played a little
bit different with Tony and we had a much better offense,” he said. “It was
good to get the goal and to be honest, we had some other great chances to tie

When asked if the
team would continue with the same pattern in its upcoming games, Holohan was
reluctant to answer certainly.

“We probably will
but I can’t say,” he said. “I don’t want to give anything away. Let’s put it
this way, what we did against Sonoma,
we changed it a bit. It looked like we got good stuff up in the front and we
might continue in that way.”

With six games left,
the Tritons have their backs against the wall if they want to extend their
season into the playoffs. The team has already faced three of its next
opponents: Cal State Dominguez Hills, Cal State Los
and Cal Poly Pomona. With the exception of the
game against Cal State Dominguez Hills, the Tritons lost the other two games by
only one goal.

The Tritons will
have a chance to redeem themselves but may have to do so without Caplan, whose
return date is unknown.

Holohan acknowledged
that the team is in for a rough fight but is optimistic about the team’s
chances of a playoff berth.

“It’s always going
to be difficult to get points, but we have six games against conference
opponents,” he said. “It’s getting to the stage where we need points, but it’s
not over ‘til it’s over.”