Tritons Take Two Conference Wins

    Off to the best start in recent memory, the Tritons 5-1-2 have claimed the top spot in the CCAA with two consecutive wins this weekend. Senior forward Evan Walker netted two goals for the Tritons last weekend, on Sept. 28 and 30 in UCSD’s homestand.

    On Sunday, in a bout against CCAA South opponent CSU San Bernardino, Walker broke free down the left sideline to slot the ball past Coyote keeper Tanner Olinger. Up 1-0, the game remained tight as the play remained in the middle of the park.

    In a textbook display of team defense, the Tritons plugged the center of the field, leaving little opportunity for the Coyotes in the attack in the second half. Junior forward Tsuk Haroush stood as the lone striker in the attack, while the remainder of the Tritons stayed largely behind the ball. Managing his substitutions well, UCSD Head Coach Jon Pascale kept the legs fresh on the field, as the Tritons sent in eight substitutions in the first half alone.

    “The defense has been great from our goalkeeper to our back four. We’ve played a lot of different guys in there,” Jon Pascale said. “We’ve really done it by committee. It’s great to have that many guys you can trust and get the job done.”

    With the clock winding down the game opened up, as CSU San Bernardino pushed to attack in search of the equalizer — neither team organizing an attack, but both squads capitalizing on mistakes and rushing the goal in the transition.

    The Tritons cemented the win with 10 minutes left when freshman midfielder Elan Gefen took the ball down to the left corner. Gefen struck a long flighted ball to the opposite goal post to find junior transfer Will Pleskow, who sent a header into the back of the net. Demonstrating the depth of the incoming freshmen, the goal marked Pleskow’s first goal and Gefen’s first assist.

    “The second goal was just three or four good decisions,” Pascale said. “The right pass and the right runs and everything just added up.”

    On Friday night, the Tritons fought for a 1-0 advantage midway into the first half over CCAA South Division squad CSU Dominguez Hills, and held onto the lead to scrape by with the win.

    In the 21st minute, senior midfielder Alex Portela lifted the ball into the center of the 18-yard box to find the head of senior forward Walker. Walker struck the ball into the upper right hand corner to net the game winner as well as the senior’s first goal of the season.

    “That was a really good team we beat tonight,” UCSD Head Coach Jon Pascale said to the UCSD Athletics Department. “[They were] the best attacking players that we’ve seen so far.”

    Needing a goal to equalize, Dominguez Hills went on the attack from there, while the Tritons were content to protect their 1-0 lead.

    In the second half, UCSD was outshot by the Toros 10-1, putting true freshman, goalkeeper Scott McElfresh, to the test.

    In his first full game, McElfresh made four big stops to keep the net clean for UCSD.

    Ten games into the 2012 season, the Tritons have only allowed three goals, and only one goal in CCAA play.

    UCSD heads back on the road to face Sonoma State, next week, Oct. 5, in Ronhert Park. A win against the Seawolves — ranked second in the CCAA North Division — would put the Tritons solidly at the top of the conference ranking.

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