Photo by: UCSD
It took eighteen matches, but seniors Josh Jackson, Brandon Yee, and Tyler Zupan finally tallied goals as UCSD ended the year 8-6-4 overall and 8-5-3 in CCAA play. CSUEB falls to 2-15-3 overall and 1-12-3 in conference competition.
UCSD forced the offensive pressure from the get-go, as Yee nearly caught CSUEB goalkeeper Bryce Bookhamer to the short post just three minutes into the match. Shane Micheil would be able to fire off a shot from close range in the 5th minute, but Bookhamer was able to push it wide. After winning four corner kicks and forcing six shots within the first 15 minutes of the match, UCSD's Kasra Sarabakhsh would draw a foul inside the area after a beautiful display of dribbling in the box, allowing Jackson to convert the penalty kick for a 1-0 UCSD lead.
The Tritons nearly pushed their lead to two goals going into the interval, but Gavin Lamming could not convert an open header off a corner kick from Sarabakhsh, flicking the ball over the bar at the 41:15 mark.
In the 52nd minute, Yee would find space down the sideline, dribbling hard towards goal with a defender on his back. He would be able to work the ball inside the six-yard box, crossing the ball to Zupan, who slid-in and got a foot to Yee's pass. Bookhamer stonewalled Zupan's shot, letting the ball trickle back to the toe of Yee, who easily poked the shot inside the near post for a 2-0 Triton lead. It marked the second consecutive match Zupan logged an assist.
In the 65th minute, it would be Zupan that would be rewarded, as Jackson found Zupan posting up his defender on the top of the box. Zupan was able to turn his man, putting the ball on the right side of his body while keeping his defender on his left. He cracked the shot from about 17 yards out, tucking it inside the far post for a 3-0 lead.
Less than eight minutes later, Andisheh Bagheri would free himself along the right sideline, passing a square-ball for Jordan Valenciano. With his back towards goal, Valenciano gathered the ball while shuffling to the right, shouldering off a pair of defenders intent on stealing the ball. Falling away towards the left sideline, Valenciano turned and released a low left-footed shot, cutting the ball hard enough to beat Bookhamer to the right post. The goal was Valenciano's first on the year.
Bagheri would get a taste of the back of the net for the first time this season just a handful of minutes later. After a poor clearance by the Pioneer defense, Bagheri collected the ball at 23 yards, freezing a Pioneer defender with a clever step-over. Bagheri's would fire off a high, curling shot, tucking the ball just under the crossbar with no chance for Bookhamer to get a hand to it.
Jackson would add the final goal less than a minute later, cannoning a shot from nearly 30 yards away into the right upper-V. Jackson ended the match with a pair of goals and an assist. Zupan and Bagheri each finished with a goal and an assist.
"We have a very solid group of guys on this team and no one player really stands above the rest," said UCSD head coach Jon Pascale. "I think everyone can contribute on the team and it definitely showed today."
UCSD outshot CSUEB, 33-11, and won 14 corner kicks in comparison with the Pioneers' six. UCSD goalkeeper Josh Cohen was called to task four times, while Bookhamer registered 12 saves.
UCSD won five of its final seven matches of the season while going unbeaten in eight of their last ten contests.
Prior to the match, seniors Zupan, Yee, Jackson, Micheil, Sarabakhsh, David Bakal, and Jared Kukura were honored for their years of service to the team.