LA JOLLA, Calif. -
Sophomore midfielder Elan Gefen
notched his first collegiate goal on a rebound effort in the 55th minute to send UC San Diego to a critical 1-0 victory over Cal State Stanislaus in a California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) men's soccer contest Friday night at Triton Soccer Field.
With the much-needed win following back-to-back losses a weekend ago, UCSD improved to 8-4-2 overall and 7-3-2 in the CCAA. The Warriors, who entered the match winners of four straight, fell to 8-3-2 overall and 6-3-2 in conference play. The result could prove enormous in the frantic race for the four CCAA Championship spots in two weeks in Carson.
Gefen, a native of Woodland Hills, tapped his shot from close range into an empty net at 54:05. Scott MacBride's right-sided cross was met by senior teammate Kian Malek, whose hard shot was saved low to his right by sophomore Warrior goalkeeper Clint Long. The ball lay momentarily around the edge of the six-yard box, with Gefen quickest to pounce. Malek was credited with his first assist of 2012.
"It was the best feeling I've ever had at UCSD, definitely," remarked an ecstatic Gefen. "I haven't scored since like under-16 club (soccer), so that was probably one of the best moments I've had in my life. It was really memorable."
"(This) is a big victory," said Triton head coach Jon Pascale. "Last weekend, we took two tough losses that were hard to swallow. I thought the guys did a great job bouncing back. This wasn't an easy game. It was a game that takes us out of what we want to do. The guys did an amazing job, grinded it out, and we got a couple of big plays by a lot of guys. Kian Malek and Scottie MacBride really worked well together down the right side to create that goal, and Elan Gefen, who, for me has really had a breakthrough season, and it was great to see him finish off just a hustle play."
Both sides had early chances to score in the first half. Five and a half minutes in, junior UCSD midfielder Cory Wolfrom sent a corner kick to the back post, with sophomore right back Matt McClure heading just wide.
In the 11th minute, sophomore Warrior forward Daniel Kuczynski got himself free inside the Triton penalty area after some expert dribbling and struck a ferocious right-footed shot from the right diagonal that required a diving save by junior Josh Cohen in the UCSD goal.
Cohen, making his first start since Sept. 23, wound up with four saves in earning his fifth shutout of the season. Long had six stops for Cal State Stanislaus.
Aiding Cohen in attaining the clean sheet was the four-person back line of senior Ian MacAuley, junior Alec Arsht and sophomores Nick Roberts and Matt McClure. All played the full 90 minutes in the notable absences of the likes of junior captain Gavin Lamming and Andrew Keimach. MacAuley hadn't played since Sept. 28.
The Tritons outshot the Warriors on the night, 10-9.
UCSD plays one final home match for the 2012 regular season this Sunday, Oct. 21. Kickoff at Triton Soccer Field against Chico State is slated for 2 p.m. on Senior Day, after nine UCSD seniors are recognized. The North Division-leading Wildcats were 3-1 winners at Cal State San Bernardino on Friday to run their unbeaten streak to 10 games (7-0-3).
"A win over Chico would be massive," concluded Pascale. "It would then put the pressure on (South leader Cal State) Dominguez (Hills) to really make sure they win out. A win over Chico is a big obstacle. I know the guys are fired up for it.
"It's going to be a great day to recognize the seniors that have really elevated the status of this program. They've put in a lot of work, a lot of time, and they've left their mark on the program. That group, and the rest of their teammates, really want to send them out on a good note."
-- UCSDtritons.com --