UCSD Men Fall to Division-Leading Seawolves

Freshman forward Evan Walker sprang for a header in an Oct. 4 match against Humboldt State, pushing toward a 2-1 UCSD victory.
Freshman forward Evan Walker sprang for a header in an Oct. 4 match against Humboldt State, pushing toward a 2-1 UCSD victory. (John Hanacek/Guardian)

MEN’S SOCCER — UCSD battled through one of the most challenging stretch of season games last week. The men hosted a match against the first nationally ranked opponent they’ve played so far, Sonoma State, on Oct. 2, before taking on Humboldt State on Oct. 4.

The Sonoma State Seawolves protected their No. 7 ranking by topping the Tritons 2-1. UCSD’s offense woke up in the weekend’s final match against Humboldt State, however, paced by the solid play of junior midfielder David Bakal to win 2-1.

The Tritons now stand 5-3-4 overall and 2-3-3 in California Collegiate Athletic Association play.

In the victory against Humboldt State, the Tritons wasted no time: as Bakal kicked UCSD’s first goal only two minutes into the game. Bakal’s opening score fired up UCSD’s offense, whose inability to score consistently has plagued the team throughout the season.

The game’s second goal came in the 38th minute, off the foot of freshman midfielder Kian Malek, whose first career score as a Triton gave his team a 2-0 lead.

“We finally took advantage of our chances and were able to finish goals for the most part,” senior forward Tony Choi said. “We did not play our best game, but came out with a win just by sticking together as a team. We definitely needed to take care of the ball because their only chances really came off our mistakes. Their goal was just a bit of miscommunication, and we basically handed it to them. Besides that, they really had no chances.”

Senior Jonathan Sawyer was the driving force of the initial Triton attack, driving the ball up the left side of the field and crossing it toward the goal. Bakal took the pass from six yards out and headed it past the Humboldt keeper into the left end of the net.

Senior forward Tony Choi and freshman forward Evan Walker got assists on Malek’s goal to help bolster the Triton offense. Senior keeper Peter Akman had a total of four saves throughout the game, carrying on a season-long dominance between the posts.

Though the Tritons were victorious, senior defender Danny Pavit felt there was room for improvement.

“I feel as though our team underachieved, which is a common problem we have when we play teams that are not as good as us,” Pavitt said. “We played down to the level that Humboldt brought, which allowed them back into the game at times when we should have been three goals ahead. At the end of the day, we got the win — which is the most important thing — and now we have a couple practices to get stuff right before we are on the road again.”

The victory against Humboldt was a much-needed boost for the Triton squad who had failed to take down Sonoma State two days prior.

Seeking to upset the CCAA North Division-leading Seawolves, UCSD turned out an intense and heated game.

Despite outshooting the Seawolves 19-14, the Tritons lost at home for the first time this season.

UCSD claimed an early lead: Junior midfielder Shane Micheil scored the game’s first goal on a header in the 19th minute, but was unable to score again for the rest of the game.

The Tritons’ lone goal got its start when Bakal drove the ball up the left side of the field, then lifted a cross over the box. Micheil pushed it in with a header for a 1-0 lead.

Sonoma junior forward Brandon de la Cruz quickly erased his team’s deficit by scoring two goals, steering the Seawolves to a 2-1 victory.

Sonoma State has remained undefeated in conference play throughout 2009.

“It was a pretty even game,” senior forward Tony Choi said. “It could have gone either way, but Sonoma took better advantage of their chances. Once again, we have been having problems finding the back of the net. Both of their goals were mainly due to a lack of focus on defense, as we did not track our runners. We just need to be a bit sharper and take care of the ball.”

The Tritons’ next challenge is a home-and-away series with Cal State East Bay, starting with a 12:30 p.m. match in Hayward on Oct. 9. UCSD will then host the Cal State East Bay Pioneers on Oct. 11 at 12 p.m. The Pioneers are 1-10 on the season (0-7-0 CCAA).

Readers can contact Cameron Tillisch at [email protected].

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