TURLOCK, Calif. - The 16th-ranked UC San Diego men’s soccer team allowed a late strike and was edged, 1-0, by No. 11 Cal State L.A. in the 2013 California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Championship final Sunday at Warrior Stadium on the campus of Cal State Stanislaus.
The result meant a second CCAA title in program history for Cal State L.A. UCSD was in search of its first, making its second championship game appearance.
Second-seeded UCSD dropped to 14-3-3 overall, having gone an undefeated 5-0-2 in its previous seven matches. CSULA, the tournament’s top seed, improved to 14-1-5, extending its unbeaten run to 15 straight at 10-0-5 since its lone loss this season. Both teams were 2-1 semifinal winners on Friday, the Tritons in overtime.
The goal came at 84:08 off the foot of sophomore striker Andre Bissmark, a native of Sweden and transfer from Tusculum College. After receiving a deep pass from teammate Halil Tozar down the right wing, Bissmark cut in on his left foot and provided a perfectly-weighted, looping shot beyond the reach of Triton goalkeeper Josh Cohen and into the upper left corner on the opposite side.
The quality of Bissmark’s team-best seventh goal of 2013 was fitting a title winner, though the Tritons were the better side through a majority of the 90 minutes.
Just 5:14 into the match, UCSD earned a free kick on the right diagonal following a Cal State L.A. hand ball. Andisheh Bagheri took the kick, which deflected off Cory Wolfrom on the edge of the wall and bounded back out to the top of the box. Will Pleskow took a right-footed swing at it from straight on, with the ball taking a bounce and finding Alec Arsht around the six-yard box. Arsht’s shot attempt, however, was parried away by Cal State L.A. goalkeeper Mike Beigarten.
With under 15 minutes remaining in the opening half, Bagheri’s low, right-footed shot from just outside the box went narrowly wide to the left of the target.
Six minutes later, Alessandro Canale played a through ball into the penalty area, only for freshman strike partner Malek Bashti, who like Canale had entered the match as a substitute, to put his shot wide to the right of Beigarten’s goal.
Nick Palano cut in from the right wing nicely and put a left-footed strike on frame, only for Beigarten to snatch the ball out of the air with 3:09 to play in the period.
Half an hour into the second stanza, Canale’s pass sent Bashti in toward goal. Beigarten came out to disrupt the play. Palano was first to the loose ball, but as it fell a bit behind him, the freshman winger was unable to curl his shot into the net.
UCSD played the final 2:31 following Bissmark’s goal with a man advantage, as Bissmark himself was sent off with a red card. A last-gasp effort saw Gavin Lamming send a long pass deep into the CSULA penalty area for central defensive partner Arsht, but his header near the left post fell into Beigarten’s arms.
Cohen wound up with one save on the afternoon, while his junior counterpart Beigarten had five stops for the Golden Eagles. Cohen had earned All-CCAA First Team distinction for the season, beating out second-teamer Beigarten.
UCSD held a 12-8 shot advantage for the match, Bagheri taking a game-high three.
Bagheri, Lamming, Pleskow and Wolfrom were all named to the CCAA Championship All-Tournament Team, with Bissmark and Beigarten earning the tourney’s top offensive and defensive honors, respectively, for Cal State L.A.
The Tritons return home on Sunday night, and will spend the evening of the Veterans Day holiday Monday watching the announcement of the field for the 2013 NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Championship. UCSD should receive its first bid in a decade, since 2003, but will be tuning in to see if it has done enough to host the first and second rounds this coming week. The bracket will be revealed live on NCAA.com beginning at 4 p.m. The selection show can be viewed by clicking here.
Triton Notes: CSULA leads the all-time series, 13-11-3 ... Previously in the 2013 season series between the divisional rivals, Cal State L.A. won a 1-0 decision in Los Angeles on Sept. 15, and the sides played to a 1-1 draw on Senior Day in La Jolla just one week ago on Nov. 3 ... These teams entered the weekend as two of the top five nationally on defense in the NCAA Division II, with UCSD boasting a 0.43 goals-against average (second) and Cal State L.A. 0.47 (fourth), both rankings prior to 2-1 victories Friday ... The Tritons are 2-5-1 all-time in six appearances at the CCAA Championship and 0-1 against Cal State L.A. ... UCSD is 2-1 at Warrior Stadium in Turlock this season ... UCSD had eight seniors in its starting lineup ... Canale returned to action after missing Friday’s CCAA semifinal with Chico State due to a yellow-card accumulation (five) suspension ... Wolfrom started for the first time since Oct. 27 ... Jacob Valadez and Taylor Wirth were still unavailable through injury ... UCSD has still not let up more than one goal in any of its last 24 matches since a 3-0 loss at Cal State Dominguez Hills late in the 2012 campaign.