Tritons Squeak Past Humboldt, Upset Sonoma

    But on Sunday, against top of the conference Sonoma State, the Tritons did not look like a middle-of-the-pack squad.

    In what can only be described as a tremendous team effort, the Tritons went hard into every tackle, challenged the Seawolves all over the pitch and supported each other in the attack and defensively in their own half.

    “Our team is playing well together because we’re committed to playing defense as a team,” junior forward Evan Walker said.

    In the first half, the two teams both tallied three shots apiece. But as the half dragged on, neither team could muster a goal. And as the two teams retired after the first half, the match looked like it would shape up to be a game of attrition.

    However, in the second half, with a Triton team that seemed to be losing its legs, sophomore midfielder Cory Wolfrom received a pass from sophomore midfielder Sam Ball. At the corner of the 18-yard box, with just enough time to fire off a shot, Wolfrom sent a beautiful right-footed shot that curved just into the opposite corner of the goal.

    The goal seemed to immediately lift the Tritons, as they battled to hold the 1-0 advantage.

    With the pressure on Sonoma to equalize, the game became very physical; two yellow cards were issued in the first period and five more were issued in the second half.

    The only red card of the game was given in the 69th minute, when Sonoma forward Justin Ferreira cracked a shot toward the bottom left corner. Sophomore goalkeeper Josh Cohen made a tremendous diving save to block the shot. But after doing well to keep the ball out of the net, Taylor Varnadore picked up the rebound to finish.

    The Seawolves tied the game at 1-1, but Sonoma’s Jomed Tejan was ejected from the match after he received a red card for “excessive celebration.”

    So with one man down for Sonoma, the Tritons looked to take advantage, though they were unable to end the game in the regulation time period.

    Managing his substitutions well, head coach Jon Pascale shuffled his forwards in and out throughout the match, starting sophomore forwards Tsuk Haroush and Sam Ball, while bringing on juniors Evan Walker and Jordan Valenciano as relief.

    The substitutions paid off: Deep into the game, Walker made a number of penetrating runs into the Sonoma backline. And with less than a minute left in the game, Walker was denied a header.

    Early into the second overtime period, Walker recorded another attempt on goal as he mishit a cross from Ball.
    With just four minutes left to play, sophomore defender Andrew Keimach dribbled down the left side. Keimach found Walker who was able to dribble past the keeper to score the golden goal.
     
    “Sonoma is one of the toughest teams in the league, so it meant a lot to beat them in front of our fans,” Walker said. “I’ve never scored a golden goal before, so to do it against Sonoma with four minutes left in the game was amazing.”
     
    UCSD won another close game on Friday, when the Tritons faced bottom of the league Humboldt State.

    Overcoming a 2-1 deficit after the first half, the Tritons scored two goals in the second period to take the 3-2 lead.

    “I think that it just instills a little bit of belief back in the team,” Pascale said. “After a few tough results, I think it was natural to start having a couple doubts. But we just try and harp on being a team and working together, fixing the little things that were going wrong and getting the belief back.”

    The Lumberjacks went up early in the first half. In the 21st minute, the Tritons gave the ball away in their 18-yard box. Humboldt’s Eric Baumgardner took the ball down the middle and laid it off to Braxton Griffin, who finished past sophomore goalkeeper Jesse Brennan.

    Sophomore defender Alec Arsht finished a cross from junior defender Harris Rabin to equalize just minutes later. But Humboldt would break the draw when Baumgardner broke free of his defender and cut into the 18-yard box.

    Caught off his line, Brennan was forced to go for the ball, but clipped Baumgardner in the attempt. Humboldt was given the penalty kick. The Lumberjacks converted to take the lead.

    “The guys at half time were upset that they were down 2-1,” Pascale said. “They kind of handed them both goals. I give [our team] a lot of credit. Their mentality coming into the second half was great.

    They really kept it tight in the back. We created by far the better chances — probably should have had two other goals — and really didn’t give [Humboldt] a whole lot.”
     
    Down 2-1, the Tritons continued to push to goal in the second half, and managed to tie the game up 12 minutes in with a goal from junior midfielder Kian Malek.

    Minutes after, Pascale replaced Ball with Walker and brought Valenciano on for Wolfrom. The changes clearly quickened the pace of the game for the Tritons, and in the 66th minute, Haroush dribbled through the 18-yard box and found Arsht, who put it away to give the Tritons the 3-2 lead.

    “[Arsht] is a warrior,” Pascale said. “We can always count on him to give his best, work hard and make plays. You watch him and he’s very committed to the task, whatever that might be. I’m happy for him because it’s a lot of hard work that is being rewarded right now.”
     
    Despite the wins, the Tritons won’t continue into the postseason. Their two remaining games are set for this weekend at home against San Francisco State on Friday, Oct. 28 and Cal Poly Pomona on Sunday, Oct. 30.

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