Los Angeles Soccer: Bri Lopez
Cesar Diaz Pizarro struck with 2½ minutes to play Friday night, and UC Riverside completed a comeback for a 3-2 men's soccer triumph at UC Irvine, its third victory this season over a nationally ranked opponent.
The triumph leaves the Highlanders (9-5-2), who have twice beaten UC Santa Barbara this season, in position to qualify for the Big West Conference tournament and took command of the league's title race from ninth-ranked Irvine (13-5-1) and gave it to second-place UC Davis.
UCR twice rallied from deficits, with Jose Diaz (Corona/Santiago HS) answering Cameron Iwasa's early goal and Humberto Santiago scoring in the 79th minute to pull the Highlanders even after Christian Hernandez (Palmdale/Palmdale HS) provided a 2-1 edge to the Anteaters in the 68th.
Pizarro (Chino/Ayala HS) scored his team-best ninth goal -- and school-record eighth career winning goal -- in the 88th minute.
UCI remains atop the standings with 16 points from a 5-3-1 conference record, but UC Davis (5-3), one point behind, has two games remaining, one more than the Anteaters. UCR (4-3-2) and UC Santa Barbara (4-4) also are in the race.
In other men's action:
- Luis Silva (Los Angeles/Salesian HS) scored twice and assisted two more goals as UC Santa Barbara (11-5-1) held on for a 4-3 victory at Cal State Fullerton (7-6-4) to climb into fourth place, putting the Gauchos into position to qualify for the Big West tournament. UCSB finishes its regular season with games against Cal State Northridge and Cal Poly, its closest pursuers.
- Cal State Northridge (7-7-3) settled for its second successive scoreless draw, against visiting Cal Poly, and sits fifth, one spot outside a Big West tournament berth, with two games to go.
- Paul Islas tallied twice and Fresno Pacific held on for a 4-3 victory over Concordia (12-3-1), No. 8 in the NAIA rankings, in a showdown for the Golden State Athletic Conference title. Edgar Orozco (Santa Ana/Santa Ana HS, Corona HS and Golden West College) scored twice and added an assist for the Eagles.
All-American Ethan Finlay scored a hat trick, and fourth-ranked Creighton overwhelmed No. 7 UC Irvine in a non-conference men's soccer showdown Saturday night in Omaha, Neb.
Finlay provided a fifth-minute lead, then added goals in the 62nd and 88th minutes, each time extending the Bluejays' lead to two goals. Jimmy Turner (Mission Viejo/Mission Viejo HS) headed home a Christopher Santana cross in the 63rd for the Anteaters (12-3-0).
“That's a very, very good opponent. They will do well this year,” Creighton coach Elmar Bolowich, whose team notched its second win over a top-10 foe in its past three games, told his school's athletics website. “That's a great win for us. I thought the first half was probably the best half I have seen us play this season."
Creighton (11-2-0) hadn't conceded a goal in its first five home games.
UCIrvine leads the Big West Conference with a 4-1 mark, one game ahead of Cal State Northridge, Cal Poly and UC Davis.
In other men's action:
- Matt Sheldon tallied three minutes into overtime, his second goal of the game, to give UC Davis a 2-1 Big West victory at Cal State Northridge (6-6-1). Edwin Rivas (Los Angeles/Santee Educational Complex) scored in the 79th minute for the Matadors.
- Ben Sperber (Palm Desert/Desert Christian HS) slotted home a loose ball in the 83rd minute as UC Riverside (6-5-2) rallied for a 1-1 Big West draw at Cal State Fullerton (6-5-2). Kevin Venegas (Lakewood/Los Alamitos HS) tallied for the Titans.