Jonny on the Spot! No. 24 Tritons Stun No. 9 Cal State LA on Late Sabouri Goal, Strengthen Postseason Hopes
LA JOLLA, Calif. - Jonathan Sabouri's goal with just over five and a half minutes left in regulation gave the No. 24 University of California San Diego men's soccer team a huge 1-0 triumph over ninth-ranked Cal State LA in a key California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) matchup Friday night at Triton Soccer Stadium.
With the victory, UC San Diego improved to 11-2-2 overall and 5-2-2 in the CCAA. Cal State LA suffered its first league defeat, falling to 10-2-2 overall and 7-1-1 in CCAA play.
Redshirt senior right back and captain Jeff Powers drew a foul deep in his own half near the right touch line, and sophomore goalie Pedro Enciso (Vista/Rancho Buena Vista HS) sent the resulting free kick long down that sideline. Brett Jones appeared to get his head to it, before Cal State LA reserve center back Jesper Evensen could only make a slight play on it with his own head. Jones pounced on the loose ball on the right diagonal, took two touches into the box and toward the end line, and produced an exquisite right-footed cross on the ground. Sabouri (Carlsbad/San Dieguito HS Academy) made the perfect run, and merely had to redirect the ball into the empty net from close range with his left foot for his team-best fourth goal at 84:22. Jones' assist was also his fourth, to give him the team lead as well.
The match was played in front of a season-high crowd of 716 spectators on UC San Diego Homecoming.
The Tritons have now won a pair of critical contests, both 1-0, on back-to-back Fridays, having knocked off then-second-place host Cal State San Bernardino seven days ago. They remain in sixth place in the league standings, with three games to go, but instead of being two points up on the two teams trailing them, they are five points clear. The top six sides in the final standings qualify for the CCAA Tournament. CSULA began the day atop the table, but were in second by kickoff, as reigning West Region champion Cal Poly Pomona won 1-0 at CSUMB earlier.
Enciso finished with five saves, four in the first half, for his eighth individual shutout of the season. That is a new career high, and gives him 15 clean sheets in all for his college days. Junior Alexander Brems had three stops for the visitors.
Eleventh-year Triton head coach Jon Pascale and his staff got the tactics all right, as their side survived an early wave by a prolific Golden Eagle offense that had scored 12 goals in its previous three matches, and began to assert itself behind a dependable bench. True freshman forward Nick Cirrito and redshirt sophomore central midfielder Matt Davis were two of those effective reserves, with Cirrito particularly making a difference by virtue of notching the Tritons' first three shots of the evening, in succession between the 31st and 33rd minutes.
The middle one of that trifecta was closest to a shock opener for the hosts. Redshirt freshman center back Oliver Nelson (Escondido/Escondido HS) sent a perfect ball over the top for Cirrito to chest down with one touch, and fire right-footed from head on with his second, only for Brems to go down to his right to make the grab.
Enciso nicely got in the way of a hard right-footed try from the right diagonal by junior Golden Eagle forward Robin Lindahl in the 16th. Morten Bjoershol, also a native of Norway, then had his 19th-minute header from a right-sided Daniel Simonis free kick, denied by Enciso. The sophomore landed awkwardly on the play, and though he returned to finish the half, would not be seen following the interval.
UC San Diego plays one last regular-season home match against another top southern CCAA rival in Cal State Dominguez Hills (4-10-1, 4-5 CCAA) on Senior Day this Sunday, Oct. 21, at 11:30 a.m. Six Tritons will be recognized beginning at 11:20 a.m. The Toros are one of the two teams trailing UC San Diego by five points. Parking and admission are free on North Campus in La Jolla, or watch on UCSDtritons.tv.
Triton Notes: UC San Diego takes a slim 15-14-5 edge in the all-time series ... The Tritons are 2-0-1 against the Golden Eagles in the last three meetings, without surrendering a single score ... UC San Diego is in fact unbeaten against CSULA in the last six regular-season matchups (4-0-2), outscoring the Golden Eagles, 5-1, with four 1-0 decisions, a scoreless draw and a 1-1 tie ... Senior Matt Merrill and redshirt freshman Darragh Buckley were both back in the starting lineup after one-game injury absences, at holding central midfielder and left back, respectively ... The Tritons improved to 2-0 against nationally-ranked foes in 2018, both wins coming at home ... UC San Diego remains an unbeaten 10-0-1 at home this season ... Cal State LA was 4-0-2 on the road prior to Friday's defeat in La Jolla, and hadn't lost since Sept. 6, when it dropped a 2-1 home decision to now-top-ranked and still-perfect Simon Fraser ... Jonathan Sabouri's goal was the 10th of his college career and third game-winner, as his first decisive tally of 2018 ... Brett Jones has five career assists.
M⚽️: The pass by Brett Jones. The run by Jonathan Sabouri. The sophomore starting forwards combine on dramatic winner in front of the alumni as No. 24 #UCSanDiego posts critical 1-0 win for 2nd Friday in a row. #GoTritons #Tritons #CCAAms #D2SOC #RoadToPittsburgh @goccaa @NCAADII pic.twitter.com/BTsfKsCo6t— UCSD Athletics (@UCSDtritons) October 20, 2018
About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country. The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in summer 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference. UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's preeminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent. A total of 80 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 36 have earned prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.
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