Men’s Soccer Improves to 6-1-1 Thanks to Shutout Win

Photo from UCSD Athletics
Photo from UCSD Athletics

Senior forward Sam Palano scored twice, once in each half, to lead the No. 21-ranked Tritons to a 2–0 victory over rival Chico State in a California Collegiate Athletic Association matchup at Triton Soccer Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The Tritons move their record to a stellar 611 overall and 11 in the CCAA. UCSD is undefeated at home with a 50 record in La Jolla. With the loss, Chico State has now gone six games without a win; its record is 143 overall and 022 in league play.

Palano’s first goal started from a cross that came from junior forward Uly de la Cal in the 21st minute. Palano took the cross and blasted a right-footed shot from the right side low into the left corner of the goal. It was de la Cal’s second assist of the season.

Palano didn’t need an assist for his second goal. In the 58th minute he took the ball between the center line and Chico State’s end line, and dribbled towards the right edge of the penalty area. He drilled a perfect shot between Wildcat junior goalkeeper Damion Lewis and the left post. With the additional two goals, Palano now leads the team with four goals this season.

Goalkeeper Cameron McElfresh, also a senior, made three saves for the Tritons and earned his fourth shutout of the season — the 23rd of his career. McElfresh is now the all-time record holder for most shutouts by goalkeeper since UCSD moved to Division II in 2000, unseating current professional player and former All-American teammate Josh Cohen.

The Tritons nearly took a lead in the eighth minute, as junior midfielder Zachary Lagotta sent in a cross from the right to senior midfielder Riley Harbour, but Harbour’s shot went just wide left.

With UCSD up 10, another scoring opportunity arose in the 39th minute. Freshman defender Kelvin Uribe launched a deep pass to junior midfielder Eric Young, who then sent a short cross to de la Cal. Unfortunately, his shot was blocked by Wildcat senior defender Isaiah Dargan.

Defenders Uribe, senior Kuba Waligorski, and junior Nolan Mac each played the entire match. Redshirt sophomore Matt Merrill came back to his central midfield role after a one-game absence. All of them contributed to a shutout and CCAA’s No.1 ranked defense. With 23 minutes left in the game, Mac stopped Chico State from taking a chance to score.

UCSD could have added to its existing two-goal lead in the 79th minute when Young stole the ball and passed it to de la Cal. However, the Wildcats’ sophomore goalkeeper Luke Dennison moved to his right to make his only save of the game.

The Tritons will remain at home next weekend, as they will host Sonoma State on Friday at 4:30 p.m. and Humboldt State on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. Both matches are open doubleheaders with the women’s team at Triton Soccer Stadium, which is free admission with a live video stream in high definition on UCSDtritons.tv.

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