First-Half Goals by Kristjansson, Cirrito Push Tritons Over Saints, Keep Them Perfect Heading Into CCAA Opener
LA JOLLA, Calif. - The University of California San Diego men's soccer team scored twice in the first half and hung on in the second to defeat Saint Martin's University, 2-1, at Triton Soccer Stadium in a rare Monday afternoon matinee.
With a fourth straight victory to start its season-opening 10-game homestand, UC San Diego stays perfect at 4-0. Saint Martin's, out of Lacey, Wash., and the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC), drops to 1-4. The Saints were wrapping up a busy California trip that featured three matches over five days, as well as a five-game road stretch to begin the new campaign, on getaway day.
It was a pair of newcomers on the Triton goals. Sophomore central midfielder Jón Veigar Kristjánsson, a native of Iceland and transfer from Division I USC Upstate, opened the scoring with an unassisted strike at 21:24. A left-sided Kiefer Cooksey cross was headed in the air by two separate SMU defenders, with the ball bouncing twice toward Kristjánsson at the top of the box, to hammer low into the center of the goal. It was his first as a Triton, and indeed the first of his college career.
UC San Diego doubled the advantage in the 42nd minute, as junior holding central midfielder Jonathan Stoop stole the ball around the edge of the midfield circle, dribbled ahead and laid off to Nick Cirrito. The true freshman forward out of Diamond Bar (Mater Dei HS) took a delicate right-footed settling touch, and then struck a powerful right-footed shot that found the upper left netting for his second in four matches. The assist was Stoop's first.
Saint Martin's pulled one back in the 55th minute as Stephen Murray, Jr., crossed from the right, Brandon Madsen headed it back across the goalmouth at the far post, and Sebastian Navarro put a right-footed shot into the right netting for his first.
Overcoming a well-played second half by the visitors, particularly after that goal, UC San Diego was able to close out the victory. The Tritons controlled the first half and held a 12-4 advantage in shots after the first 45 minutes. The final tally was 15-8. The home side was called for offsides nine times on the afternoon.
Sophomore goalkeeper Pedro Enciso finished with three saves for the hosts. Senior Griffin Small also had three stops for the Saints.
The Tritons came out firing, and sophomore forward Brett Jones had all of his game high of four shot attempts over just the first 15 minutes. The first of those, 126 seconds in, was arguably nearest to denting the scoreboard. Senior winger Christian Cordell headed a deep ball forward down his right flank, and sophomore forward Jonathan Sabouri (Carlsbad/San Dieguito HS Academy) sent a great cross that dipped right over the front-side defender, for Jones to whip a header, only for Small to parry it down. Jones' rebound effort while on the ground, was also denied by the SMU goalie. The Mission Viejo native would later flash another header wide to the left, and also miss narrowly to the left with his right foot at exactly the 15:00 mark.
Cirrito's left-sided cross was almost turned in by Matt Davis in the 35th minute, but the redshirt sophomore midfielder hit his shot to the right of the intended target.
Despite two more non-league matches later this month, UC San Diego now heads into its 12-game California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) schedule, hosting Cal State Monterey Bay this Friday, Sept. 14, at 4:30 p.m., and Cal State East Bay on Sunday, Sept. 16, at 11:30 a.m. Both matches will serve as the first halves of doubleheaders with the second-ranked and also-undefeated (4-0-1) Triton women. Admission is free into Triton Soccer Stadium on North Campus in La Jolla, or fans can watch all four games live in high definition on UCSDtritons.tv.
Triton Notes: UC San Diego leads the all-time series, 3-1-1, including 3-1 in La Jolla and 3-0-1 over the last four meetings since the 2014 opener ... The Tritons came out with the same starting lineup for the second game in a row, again missing senior midfielder Matt Merrill and freshman center back Noah Sonenstein, and still missing junior winger Andy Sartor ... Jonathan Stoop's assist was the second of his career ... The Tritons' nine offsides were their most since being called for 10 in a 2-0 home win over Humboldt State on Sept. 27, 2013.