LA JOLLA, Calif. - True freshman Jonathan Sabouri (Carlsbad/San Dieguito HS Academy) scored the first two goals of his college career in remarkable fashion, lifting the University of California San Diego men's soccer team to a come-from-behind, 2-1 overtime triumph over No. 17 Cal Poly Pomona in a California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) match with big postseason implications under Friday night lights at Triton Soccer Stadium.
The heavyweight tilt was a rematch of the 2016 NCAA Division II West Region final, also won in overtime by the host Tritons, by the score of 1-0.
That one somehow still managed to pale in comparison in terms of drama, as UCSD fell behind in the 62nd minute, only for Sabouri to knock in a rebound in the 70th, and then volley home to finish off a picture-perfect set-piece play at 94:09 of the first overtime period, for a thrilling victory.
With the result, UC San Diego improves to 5-1-3 overall and 3-1-1 in the CCAA. The Tritons vault straight up into the No. 2 position in the conference table. Cal Poly Pomona, a winner of three straight at the start of the night which has in fact played in back-to-back West Region finals, drops to 7-3 overall and 3-2 in league play.
The Tritons drew a free kick around the left flank approaching the midway point of the first overtime. Redshirt junior right back Jeff Powers sent it toward the penalty spot, where sophomore center back Jonathan Stoop leapt the highest, heading the ball down to the left. Sabouri was waiting all alone at the back door, picking it right out of the air and slamming his right-footed volley low into the bottom left corner past the diving goalie. Powers and Stoop were both awarded assists. Sabouri was actually even the Triton who was fouled to begin the final sequence.
In the 28th minute, CPP senior Sergi Monso, the CCAA's leading goal-scorer, was sent into the UCSD penalty area on a good through ball. Freshman goalkeeper Pedro Enciso (Vista/Rancho Buena Vista HS) thwarted the run of the native of Barcelona, Spain, initially, but Monso managed to gather again and get a shot off, only for Enciso to save with his outstretched left hand. The Tritons did not have much going on over the first 45, but redshirt freshman Hunter Fields did hit a right-footer on his sweet spot that traveled just over the crossbar in the 40th.
UCSD took some control during the early part of the second half. In the 49th, nice combination play from junior midfielder Matt Merrill and senior winger Zachary Lagotta (San Diego/Cathedral Catholic HS) sent Malek Bashti streaking into the 18-yard box, where he was tripped, and the penalty given. The senior striker had his right-footed attempt saved, however, as senior Jason Trejos dove down to his left.
In the 54th, Bashti put a whipped header on a right-sided Lagotta cross, and Trejos had to leap up to narrowly tip the ball over the bar and out for a corner kick. Just over two minutes later, Bashti went on a rumbling run from the right flank into the area before unleashing a left-footed attempt that was blocked away for a corner.
Finally in the 62nd, CPP was awarded a free kick just beyond the top of the box, a perfect spot for a player of Monso's skill. He made no mistake, curling a right-footer into the upper right corner for his league-best 13th. Enciso had virtually no chance.
The Tritons, almost knowing at this point that they excel when down a goal, pressed on, and at 69:31, Bashti passed to fellow senior Steven Ortiz, whose shot from the top of the box was saved. Trejos couldn't handle it, however, and Sabouri was right there to poke in the rebound from up close for the equalizer, his first Triton goal.
Enciso came up with three saves for the Tritons. Trejos had four for the Broncos. UCSD held a slight 12-10 advantage in shots taken, and did not allow a single corner kick to the Broncos, while taking six. The teams combined for 11 offside calls.
CPP had a goal in either half disallowed for offside infractions. The first came in the 26th minute, and the other in the 75th on Monso, who bulged the net to no avail.
Despite all of CPP's success in recent years, UCSD has had its number, moving to 9-1 against the Broncos over the last 10 meetings, with four wins in a row. In fact, last year's regular-season matchup on the final day, in Pomona, also saw the Broncos take a 1-0 second-half lead. The Tritons scored twice in the last 4:27 to steal the three points and thus earn the first CCAA championship in program history.
UCSD continues a season-long four-game homestand this Sunday, Oct. 1, against Cal State San Bernardino. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m., after the seventh-ranked Triton women take on the Coyotes. Admission is free at Triton Soccer Stadium in La Jolla.
Triton Notes: UCSD is 2-0 against nationally-ranked teams in 2017, having previously won 2-1 at then-19th-ranked Cal State Dominguez Hills on Sept. 22, also rallying from a 1-0 deficit late in that one ... Since the start of the 2016 season, the Tritons have turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 triumph on nine occasions ... UCSD's last four victories against nationally-ranked teams, going back to last year's come-from-behind 2-1 success at No. 18 Cal Poly Pomona in the regular-season finale, have been games in which the Tritons fell behind 1-0 before winning 2-1 ... The Tritons are still an undefeated 7-0-17 over their last 24 overtime affairs going back to 2014 ... During this stretch of 10 games with CPP in which UCSD has gone 9-1 against the Broncos, all nine victories have been by one-goal margins ... The assist by Steven Ortiz on the equalizer was his first this year ... Jonathan Stoop's assist on the winner was the first of his college career ... Jeff Powers' assist was his team-best third ... The Tritons had started the day in a tie with Cal State LA for fifth in the CCAA standings.