LA JOLLA, Calif. - In a men’s soccer match-up between nationally-ranked sides with postseason implications, No. 17 UC San Diego and No. 11 Cal State L.A. played to a 1-1 draw on Senior Day Sunday at Triton Soccer Stadium.
In extending their unbeaten run now to six games (4-0-2), the Tritons moved to 13-2-3 overall and completed their California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) slate at a best-ever 11-2-3. CSULA, which remained undefeated over its last 12 matches (7-0-5) since its lone defeat at SF State on Sept. 20, came away 12-1-5 overall and 10-1-5 in league play.
UCSD had to win the contest in order to secure at least a share of its first CCAA South Division crown since 2003, as well as the top seed at this week’s CCAA Championship in Turlock. Both the Tritons and Golden Eagles had already clinched spots in the four-team tournament last weekend. The draw, however, made Cal State L.A. the South champion and No. 1 seed.
The Tritons, as the No. 2 seed, will take on 22nd-ranked and third-seeded Chico State in a CCAA semifinal beginning at 11 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 8, at Warrior Stadium. The rivals split their two regular-season meetings, each winning narrow 1-0 decisions on the other team’s field. The CCAA men’s final is Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
With less than 15 minutes remaining in regulation, junior striker Alessandro Canale was fouled near the edge of the penalty area toward the right side. Canale and freshman teammate Malek Bashti lingered around the ball for a bit, along with Andisheh Bagheri, but it was Bagheri who ultimately was left behind it. UCSD’s senior playmaker then calmly sent a perfect free kick into the lower left corner at 75:53 to give the Tritons a 1-0 lead.
It was Bagheri’s team-best 10th goal of the season. He has now scored in five straight games, having sat out Friday’s win at Cal Poly Pomona, with six goals during this stretch.
With just over seven minutes left in regulation at 82:53, Golden Eagle forward Andre Bissmark tucked his right-footed shot into the near-side netting from the left side of the box for the equalizer. Assists went to teammates Juan Ochoa and Halil Tozar. The goal was the sophomore transfer’s team-best sixth of 2013.
The teams combined for just two shots over the two 10-minute overtime periods, both by the Tritons, as a draw was the result that Cal State L.A. needed. UCSD held a slim 16-15 edge in shots on the afternoon.
Josh Cohen made five saves for the Tritons to equal his season high. Mike Beigarten had seven stops in the CSULA net.
Eleven Tritons were recognized prior to the final regular-season home match of their careers, in Bagheri, Cohen, Alec Arsht, Jesse Brennan, Elan Gefen, Tsuk Haroush, Gavin Lamming, Will Pleskow, Nick Roberts, Taylor Wirth and Cory Wolfrom.
Arguably the best chance by either side to open the scoring in the first half came in the 15th minute off of Canale’s head, from a right-sided Bagheri corner kick, with Beigarten there to deny.
In the second half, clever combination play from Bashti and junior winger Brandon Bauman down the right flank resulted in a chance for Gefen around the penalty spot, but his shot went high of the target in the 66th.
Triton Notes: UCSD had dropped this season’s first meeting between the teams, 1-0 in Los Angeles on Sept. 15 ... CSULA leads a tight all-time series, 12-11-3 ... Wolfrom was unavailable for a second straight match, meaning a third career start for freshman forward Gerrit van Zyll, all coming over the past three matches ... UCSD has still not let up more than one goal in any of its last 22 matches since a 3-0 loss at Cal State Dominguez Hills late in the 2012 campaign ... The Tritons were a perfect 11-0 this season when scoring first, prior to Sunday’s draw, and are now 11-0-1.