LA JOLLA, Calif. - The 18th-ranked UC San Diego men’s soccer team scored two second-half goals and held off San Francisco State University, 2-1, in a California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) match Friday night at Triton Soccer Stadium.
With the victory, UCSD improved to 11-2-2 overall and 9-2-2 in the CCAA. The Tritons are still in third place in the CCAA South, as leader Chico State and second-place Cal State L.A. both won their matches on Friday. Through Chico State’s 3-1 home decision over fourth-place Cal State Dominguez Hills, UCSD widened its lead for the fourth and final CCAA Championship berth to eight points over the Toros.
A win at home Sunday over Cal State Monterey Bay would clinch the Tritons’ first conference tourney berth since 2005.
The 11 triumphs are now UCSD’s single-season best under sixth-year head coach Jon Pascale, with a pair of 10-win campaigns previously in 2008 and 2011. The nine league successes also match the Tritons’ best with Pascale in charge, from 2011.
SF State, which entered the match already on a string of seven straight losses while being outscored, 15-1, fell to 3-11-1 overall and 2-10-1 in league play.
In the 49th minute, Cory Wolfrom expertly one-timed a deflected pass from fellow senior Will Pleskow into the lower left corner of the goal for his third on the season. Pleskow was credited with his first assist.
In the 65th minute, it was a similar scenario, as freshman Gerrit van Zyll accepted a feed from Pleskow, with his attempted cross deflected by a Gator defender and to the feet of senior playmaker Andisheh Bagheri. Bagheri took a touch and hammered a right-footed shot from outside the 18-yard box into the upper right corner of the net. The strike marked his team-leading seventh goal on the season, with van Zyll picking up his second collegiate assist.
At that point, the odds favored the nation’s top defense in the NCAA Division II to hold onto a 2-0 advantage against a team that had managed just one goal over its previous seven matches. That’s exactly how things shook out, though the visitors did manage to tally the first score against UCSD in La Jolla from the run of the play this year to make things interesting over the final 13 or so minutes.
At 77:13, Cameron De Jong’s deflected pass fell to Matias Rodriguez inside the area, with the latter Gator finding the lower corner to the left of UCSD goalkeeper Josh Cohen to cut the margin in half. It was a first collegiate goal for Rodriguez and a first collegiate assist for fellow freshman De Jong.
Cohen finished the match with two saves. Sophomore Colt Reichl, who leads the CCAA in saves, stopped six shots for SF State.
UCSD outshot SFSU on the night, 16-9, with 13 coming after the interval.
The Tritons’ best chance to open the scoring in the first half was arguably through Alessandro Canale in the 24th minute, when the junior striker’s right-footed shot from the center of the penalty box was kick-saved by Reichl.
A season-long six-match homestand concludes this Sunday, Oct. 27, against Cal State Monterey Bay. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m., following the UCSD women’s game at 11:30 a.m.
Triton Notes: Triton Notes: The Tritons moved to a perfect 10-0 when scoring first this season ... UCSD leads the all-time series, 10-4-3, and is 6-0-2 against SF State over the last eight meetings, with three straight wins in La Jolla since a scoreless draw in 2009 ... Matias Rodriguez snapped a scoreless streak of 357:26 for the Gators against the Tritons with his late goal ... UCSD is 6-1-1 at Triton Soccer Stadium in 2013 with just three goals allowed in 742:09 ... The 11 wins are the Tritons’ most since 2005 … UCSD has equaled its highest total of CCAA victories, having reached nine three previous times in 2011, 2002 and 2000 ... Bagheri’s seven goals are the most by a Triton since Tony Fernandez hit for the same number in Pascale’s first season in charge in 2008 ... Bagheri entered the season with just two career scores ... UCSD started with the same 11 for the fifth straight match and seventh time this year ... The Tritons still have not let up more than one goal in any of their past 19 matches since a 3-0 loss at Cal State Dominguez Hills late in the 2012 campaign.