LA JOLLA, Calif. - The University of California San Diego men's soccer team broke a 1-1 second-half deadlock and dispatched visiting Azusa Pacific University, 3-1, Saturday night at Triton Soccer Stadium.
UC San Diego improved to 2-0 on the young season, to begin a 10-match homestand through the month of September. APU fell to an even 1-1. Both teams had taken home decisions on Thursday night.
Nick Cirrito, a prized true freshman out of Diamond Bar, opened the scoring with his first collegiate goal, and set up the late clincher. In between, junior central midfielder Jonathan Stoop got on the end of a well-worked set piece, to notch what proved to be the winner.
The lone goal of the opening frame came at the 42:55 mark from Cirrito. Redshirt senior right back Jeff Powers played a ball forward, and the Tritons' two second-string forwards did the rest. Fourth-year senior Nathaniel Bloom (Encinitas/San Dieguito HS Academy) took one settling touch before sending a deep ball over the top, for Cirrito to run onto. The six-foot specimen outmuscled his lone defender and converged on the ball simultaneously with Cougar goalie Brendan Fix. Fix seemingly got the first touch, but Cirrito definitely the last, as the deflection trickled over the goal line before any Cougars could get there. Bloom and Powers were credited with assists, with Bloom's his second in as many games, for the first two of his career.
Sophomore goalkeeper Pedro Enciso (Vista/Rancho Buena Vista HS) had one of his best nights as a Triton, beginning with a pair of key stops in the first half, on Gregoire Diep after an effective, over-the-top feed from Gabriel Costa, and then in the 24th minute on Kyle Diaz.
UC San Diego conceded for the first time in 2018 just 87 seconds into the second half, as junior forward Arturo Astorga headed Aleksandar Pumpalovic's right-sided cross into the far netting, with Diaz also picking up an assist.
The Tritons went back ahead in the 67th. Sophomore striker Jonathan Sabouri (Carlsbad/San Dieguito HS Academy) sent a free kick from deep on the left side, into the penalty area toward the right. Powers headed it back across the goal mouth, where Stoop poked it home for his first of 2018. Powers and Sabouri gained assists.
The drama was effectively over in the 86th, thanks to solid combination play from Sabouri and Cirrito. Sabouri played Cirrito into the penalty area, with the rookie holding the ball up, and laying it back to the top of the box, for Sabouri to hammer a right-footed blast into the upper left. The strike opened his scoring account after leading the Tritons with six tallies last fall.
Enciso finished with five saves for the home side, with another critical denial of Diep in the 73rd minute that bounded out for a corner kick.
When all was said and done, UC San Diego was credited with only three shots, to 15 for the Cougars, but all three found the back of the net. Corner kicks were 8-1 in the visitors' favor.
The homestand continues again in primetime against a third successive Pacific West Conference (PacWest) foe, Concordia Irvine, this Thursday night, Sept. 6. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Triton Soccer Stadium on North Campus in La Jolla. Admission is free, or fans can watch live in high definition on UCSDtritons.tv.
Thursday's opponent, Biola, was picked seventh in the PacWest preseason poll, with APU fifth, and Concordia second.
Triton Notes: UC San Diego leads the all-time series, 13-11-2, now with three straight victories ... The teams had also met once in each of the previous four seasons since APU moved into Division II, with all four going into overtime ... Jonathan Stoop's two prior collegiate goals were both equalizers, with one in 2016 and the other in 2017 ... Jeff Powers' first career two-assist effort give him nine career helpers ... Jonathan Sabouri's clincher was his seventh collegiate goal ... Redshirt freshman center back Oliver Nelson (Escondido/Escondido HS) made his college debut, replacing injured true freshman Noah Sonenstein for the final 12:03.