Photo by: Andy Wilhelm
Fourth-year senior Nathaniel Bloom's first career assist set up Max Gonda's lone game-winner.

Tritons Fend Off Biola in Season Opener, 1-0


LA JOLLA, Calif. - Max Gonda's first career goal in his college debut late in the first half lifted the University of California San Diego men's soccer team to a 1-0 victory over Biola University in both sides' 2018 season opener at Triton Soccer Stadium on Thursday night.

Gonda, a second-year freshman out of Laguna Niguel who attended UC San Diego in 2017-18 but was not on the 2017 fall roster, entered the match with 13:24 remaining in the opening frame. Just 11:15 later, in the 43rd minute, he broke free from his defender to nod home fourth-year senior striker Nathaniel Bloom's (Encinitas/San Dieguito HS Academy) left-sided corner kick at the far post. That was the difference. It was Bloom's first career assist.

Though the Tritons were unable to ice the game over the remainder, they saw out the result from there. Sophomore goalkeeper Pedro Enciso (Vista/Rancho Buena Vista HS) was credited with a pair of saves, both tough ones in the second half, in posting his eighth career clean sheet.

Enciso's back line from right to left of fifth-year senior Jeff Powers, freshman Noah Sonenstein, and juniors Kelvin Uribe and Stjepan Kilic, all played the full 90 minutes. Sonenstein was making his college debut, with Kilic his first appearance as a Triton following a transfer from Division I Fairleigh Dickinson.

Another transfer playing in his first match for UC San Diego was sophomore starting central midfielder Jón Veigar Kristjánsson, a native of Iceland out of USC Upstate.

Luis Rodriguez took over in the Biola goal for injured teammate Alex Muir in the 26th minute and made two stops after the halftime interval.

The Tritons outshot the Eagles, 12-9, and of their 13 corner kicks, a remarkable 10 of them came in the first 45 minutes, including a pair of three-corner flurries. The 10th one was the charm.

True freshman Nick Cirrito, and redshirt sophomore Matt Davis, out of Irvine Valley College, came off the bench in the first half for their first action at UC San Diego.

Powers had a close-range effort that could have made it 2-0 in the 64th minute, denied by Rodriguez after a Kristjánsson free kick into the penalty area. Axel Van Cleve had a header for Biola (0-1) in the 63rd minute, off a corner kick, that grazed the top of the crossbar and traveled over the target.

With Thursday's decision, UC San Diego avenged an unsavory scoreless draw in La Mirada to begin the 2017 season.

UC San Diego (1-0) continues a lengthy 10-match homestand that will run through the month of September, this Saturday, Sept. 1, against Azusa Pacific. Kickoff at Triton Soccer Stadium is set for primetime once again, at 7 p.m. Parking and admission on North Campus in La Jolla will be free.

Biola was picked to finish seventh in the 12-team Pacific West Conference, while APU took up the fifth spot in that preseason poll.

Triton Notes: UC San Diego leads the all-time series, 13-7-2 ... The Tritons are 13-3-3 in season openers in their NCAA Division II era, and an unbeaten 4-0-2 over the last six of them.


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