LA JOLLA, Calif. - The No. 13 University of California San Diego men's soccer team suffered an upset loss to San Francisco State University, 1-0, in a first-round matchup of the 2017 California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Tournament Tuesday night at Triton Soccer Stadium.
Following just its second defeat of the 2017 season, third-seeded defending champion UC San Diego fell to 10-2-5 overall. Sixth-seeded SF State, making its first postseason appearance since 1978, improved to 12-4-2 overall.
SF State advances to take on No. 2 seed Cal Poly Pomona, which has played in the past two NCAA Division II West Region finals. That match is set for an 11 a.m. kickoff on Friday, Nov. 3, as UC San Diego and Triton Soccer Stadium host the men's and women's semifinals and finals this weekend.
Freshman forward Feliciano Cardenas accounted for the only goal of the contest, early in the second half at 48:28. Aydan Bowers' long left-sided throw-in was flicked on via header by fellow junior defender Tariq Pulskamp, and nodded into the bottom right corner by Cardenas for just his second goal of the campaign. Bowers and Pulskamp gained credit for their third and second assist, respectively.
The regular-season meeting between the sides had ended in a 1-1 deadlock on Senior Night in La Jolla on Oct. 6, Malek Bashti and Pulskamp's late goals over the final 10:07 of regulation cancelling each other out. That Gator goal, too, was off a set piece, as Pulskamp headed in a left-sided Andy Altamirano corner kick on the same goal at the north end of the field, and in fact the same corner.
Tuesday's loss snapped an 11-game unbeaten streak for UC San Diego during which it went 8-0-3, since its only other loss, a 2-0 home defeat to Chico State on Sept. 15 in its CCAA opener. The 11-gamer was the longest undefeated stretch of the Tritons' NCAA Division II history, since 2000.
Freshman goalkeeper Pedro Enciso (Vista/Rancho Buena Vista HS) finished with two saves for UCSD. Peter Swinkels, himself a freshman, had four stops for the Gators in posting an individual shutout. UCSD finished with a 12-10 edge in shots, including 8-3 after halftime.
A very even first half saw one really good early chance for the hosts by Bashti at 4:09, as the redshirt senior striker rumbled into the penalty area from the right side and curled a left-footer that Swinkels had to dive down low to his right to parry away with considerable difficulty out for a corner kick.
This time with just over five minutes left to go in the second half, UCSD had a final opportunity to level the score, turned away. Senior forward Uly de la Cal's right-sided corner kick went into the penalty-area scrum. Junior winger Christian Cordell's eventual short cross from beyond the far post was not handled cleanly by Swinkels. Freshman Brett Jones was last to get onto the loose ball from a narrow angle, but Bowers was well-placed to clear off the goal line and preserve the victory.
Despite the early ouster from the conference tourney, UC San Diego does not believe its 2017 campaign is over. The Tritons will await their NCAA Championship fate, with the 38-team Division II field being announced next Monday, Nov. 6, live at 3:30 p.m. PT on NCAA.com. UCSD was still second in last Wednesday's second installment of the NCAA West Region poll, with the top six in the final edition of that listing, advancing to the tournament. The third poll will be unveiled on Wednesday, but tonight's match will not be included yet in that one.
Friday's program in La Jolla is now set. After CPP and SF State meet in the first men's semifinal, top-seeded regular-season champion Cal State Dominguez Hills takes on No. 5 seed Cal State LA at 1:30 p.m. The first women's semifinal pits No. 2 seed Cal State LA against No. 3 seed Sonoma State. The top-seeded host and regular-season champion Tritons of UC San Diego play fifth-seeded city rival Cal State San Marcos to cap the day's activity in primetime at 7 p.m. All games of the 2017 CCAA Tournament will be broadcast live in high definition, for free, on UCSDtritons.tv.
Triton Notes: UCSD still leads the all-time series, 12-5-5 ... The last two meetings in La Jolla had ended in draws, earlier this season (1-1) and in 2015 (0-0) ... The Tritons are 4-7-2 all-time in the CCAA Tournament, including 0-1 against SF State ... This was their 10th all-time appearance, and program-best fifth straight ... UCSD is 5-2-2 at home this season, and 19-2-4 over its last 25 in La Jolla ... Junior holding central midfielder Matt Merrill missed a third straight game due to illness ... UCSD has been blanked in back-to-back games for the first time in 2017.