SAN FRANCISCO - Alex Portela converted a penalty kick in the 89th minute as the UC San Diego men's soccer team topped San Francisco State, 1-0, in California Collegiate Athletic Association play on Friday afternoon.
UCSD improves to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in conference play. SFSU drops to 1-2-2 and is winless in the CCAA at 0-2-1.
The Tritons were able to force pressure on the SFSU defense the last couple minutes of regulation, causing a stir in the box just two minutes from time. SFSU would succumb to the Tritons pressure, clearing a ball off the hand of one of its own defenders. The referee called for a penalty kick due to a hand ball and Portela connected to give the Tritons a 1-0 edge with just moments to go.
"We deserved to win today," said UCSD head coach Jon Pascale. "We were the better team, we controlled most of the game and we were able to get it done at the end. I thought we did really well today."
SFSU would out-shoot UCSD, 18-12, but both teams equaled each other with four shots on-frame. The Gators controlled the match at the outset, but the Tritons rallied with a flurry of chances in the opening half. Cory Wolfrom had a shot sail just over, Jordan Valenciano nearly beat SFSU keeper Eric Scolman, Franco Cruz had a pair of chances and Kian Malek volleyed a shot from inside the six-yard box into the mitts of Scolman.
"I thought we struggled a little bit to start the match," said Pascale. "But the guys did well to recover and we had some really good chances in that first half."
The teams played end-to-end in the second half, trading dangerous opportunities to no avail. Andisheh Bagheri forced a save from Scolman in the 51st minute and followed with another shot that missed wide.
The Gators answered back, but attempts by Antonio Ugarte, Sasha Chalak and Edgar Villagrana didn't trouble UCSD goalkeeper Josh Cohen. Cohen finished the day with four saves while recording the Tritons' first shutout of 2011.
Evan Walker hit the crossbar with a header in the 79th minute, nearly making it 1-0. SFSU responded with a pair of chances, but would get stuck in its own end attempting to relieve Triton pressure. Too much mounted, however, as SFSU shot itself in the foot with the hand ball.
"We've got a good offensive team ahead of us on Sunday," said Pascale. "I liked how all the guys worked in today but of course we'll have to change a couple things because it's a different type of team."
Portela leads all Tritons with two goals and five points this season. He is also tied for the team lead in assists (1), shots (7) and shots on goal (5).
UCSD faces Cal Poly Pomona at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon in CCAA action at Kellogg Field.