LA JOLLA, Calif. - Alec Arsht
scored his second goal of the game in the 67th minute to provide the game-winner in the UC San Diego men's soccer team's 3-2 win over Humboldt State in California Collegiate Athletic Association action at Triton Soccer Field.
Down 2-1 at half after surrendering a late penalty kick in the opening frame, UCSD's Kian Malek
tied it in the 58th minute before Arsht found the net from deep inside the box less than 10 minutes later. The goal was Arsht's third goal in two matches and helped the Tritons snap a four-game losing streak dating back to October 7.
UCSD moves to 7-8 overall and 6-7 in CCAA play while Humboldt State drops to 3-11 and 3-10 CCAA.
"[The win] instills a little bit of belief in the team after a few tough results," said UCSD head coach Jon Pascale
. "I think it was natural to have a couple of doubts, but we've been harping on being a team and working together to fix the little things that were going wrong."
After Malek scored with a one-time rocket from the top of the box into the side-netting to make it 2-2, the Tritons started forcing pressure on the Lumberjacks, making the Jacks play the majority of the second half in their own end. Striker Tsuk Haroush collected the ball inside the box in the 66th minute, turning his body to face goal on the left side.
Haroush, who was looking to play an easy ball back for one of his midfielders, ran out of space along the end line and was forced to make something happen. He stepped over the ball with his right foot before pushing it back toward the end line with his left to get around his defender. Tiptoeing along the end line toward the left post, Haroush drew HSU's goalkeeper and central defender over to cut off the threat before he threaded a ball to the top of the six.
Arsht, who had acres of space around him after staying put in the middle of the box, pounded home the pass from close range to send the Triton fans and bench into a frenzy.
"[Arsht] is a warrior... 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," said Pascale. "I'm happy for him because it's a lot of hard work that is being rewarded right now."
It looked as if it might turn out to be another tough game for the Tritons at the outset, as Humboldt State squandered a pair of dangerous opportunities in the opening 10 minutes. Braxton Griffin got in behind the Triton defense to put himself one-on-one with UCSD goalkeeper Jesse Brennan, but Josh van de Vrugt ran down Griffin just in time to pick the ball of his foot inside the box.
Minutes later, a long serve off a dead ball dropped at the feet of HSU's Brian Holmes inside the six. Startled, Holmes fired an open shot directly at Brennan between the posts.
The Jacks finally broke through in the 21st minute, as HSU built from the midfield to force pressure on UCSD's back line. Eric Baumgardner dribbled past a couple of Triton players about 30 yards away from goal before laying off a pass at the top of the box. Griffin ran onto the end of it before toe poking a shot into the right upper-v to make it 1-0.
Eight minutes later, UCSD returned the favor as Harris Rabin played a long ball inside the box from his spot at right back. HSU failed to clear it, allowing the ball to bounce straight to Arsht, who volleyed in a shot from seven yards out to make it 1-1.
UCSD had a defensive lapse with just over a minute left in the first half, as a clearance from the Jacks' defense gave the Tritons some difficulty. Running back towards his own goal with an HSU player on his tail, van de Vrugt attempted to play a bouncing ball back to Brennan with his forehead. However, the contact wasn't clean on the attempt and Nate Roupp stepped in to pick it off for the Jacks.
Roupp played it outside for Baumgardner, but was immediately upended by Brennan inside the box on a slide tackle. The referee called for a foul and signaled for a penalty kick. Holmes converted from the spot to give HSU a 2-1 lead heading into the break.
"The guys were upset going down 2-1. We felt like we gave them both goals, actually," said Pascale. "Their mentality going into the second half was great. They kept it tight in the back. We had by far the better chances and we didn't give them a whole lot."
UCSD controlled the tempo from the outset of the second half, as Cory Wolfrom created an opportunity to bring it back to 2-2. In the 51st minute, Wolfrom dribbled past a defender above the right side of the box before delivering a pass to the feet of Haroush at the penalty spot. With a man on his back, Haroush played a one-time through ball in-behind for Wolfrom, who ran onto the end of the pass.
One-on-one with the keeper from seven yards out, Wolfrom decided to play a ball to the back post for Sam Ball. However, Ball wasn't expecting the pass and an HSU defender stepped in to thwart the threat.
Minutes later, Wolfrom created another chance the Tritons wouldn't squander. He dribbled along the left end line before spinning to play a low, driven ball with his left to the top of the box. The ball slithered to the top of the arc, allowing Malek to crack it one-time past the keeper's left arm to make it 2-2.
Nine minutes later, Arsht added his second goal of the match to put it away for the Tritons.
UCSD returns to Triton Soccer Field on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. against Sonoma State. SSU is currently in first place in the CCAA North with an 8-3-2 conference record.
"Sunday is going to be a fun game against another good team. We're going to do what we do, do our best, believe in ourselves, and make Sonoma deal with us," said Pascale.