Los Angeles Soccer: Kaily Benenati
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.
UC Irvine netted two second-half goals to win its men's soccer showdown Saturday night at UC Santa Barbara, sending the Gauchos -- a perennial national power -- to their second loss in the young Big West Conference season.Miguel Ibarra (Lancaster/Lancaster HS) broke a scoreless draw in the 67th minute and Lester Hayes III added a second in the 80th for the seventh-ranked Anteaters (9-2-0), who bounced back from a 1-0 loss to Cal Poly in the conference opener Wednesday.
UC Santa Barbara (6-3-1), which was upset by UC Riverside in its Big West opener, nearly scored twice in front of 5,417 fans at Harder Stadium, but Irvine goalkeeper Andrew Fontein tipped a Sam Garza blast over his crossbar in the first half, and David Opoku shot just wide in a 1-on-1 opportunity in the second half.
The loss ended UCSB's 16-game home unbeaten streak.
In other men's action:
- Carlos Benavides (Woodland Hills/El Camino Real HS) assisted goals by Yarden Azulay, Christian Gonzalez Diaz (Mission Viejo/Mission Viejo HS) and Edwin Rivas (Los Angeles/Santee Educational Complex), and Cal State Northridge (5-4-1) vaulted atop the Big West standings with its second 3-0 triumph, an upset of visiting Cal State Fullerton (6-2-2). The Matadors had a 28-14 edge in shots, and Fullerton lost star midfielder Kevin Venegas (Lakewood/Los Alamitos HS) to an 82nd-minute red card.
- Matt Weisenfarth's goal just 52 seconds into the game was enough for UC Davis in a Big West Conference victory over visiting UC Riverside (6-3-1).
- Danny Day, Gabe Ramirez (Pasadena/Crescenta Valley HS) and Charles Izydorek (Redlands/Arrowhead Christian HS) scored goals and Redlands (8-3-0) improved to 5-0-0 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with a 3-0 victory over defending champ Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (6-3-1). The Stags outshot Redlands, 27-14, and had a 10-3 advantage on corner kicks.
UCLA finally has a victory. Another might boost the Bruins back into the top 25.Chandler Hoffman scored his third goal of the season and All-American Kelyn Rowe added another to lift UCLA (1-2-1), one of the chief preseason NCAA title favorites, to a 2-1 triumph Friday night over St. Mary's at Drake Stadium.
The Bruins, ranked sixth in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America preseason poll (and as high as No. 2 elsewhere), dropped out of the top 25 following losses to Louisville and UC Davis and a draw at Santa Clara.
Hoffman, who has eight goals in his last 10 games for the Bruins, finished a sequence from Shawn Singh and Eder Arreola (Chino Hills/Chino Hills HS) three minutes into the second half. Rowe's goal, a magnificent blast from just wide of the box to inside the far post, made it 2-0 in the 73rd minute.
UCLA takes on Loyola Marymount on Sunday at 5 p.m. on the Bruins' North Athletic Field.
In other men's action:
- Everett Pitts (Chino Hills/Ayala HS) volleyed home a rebound 16 minutes into overtime to lift No. 9 UC Irvine (5-0-0) to a 3-2 triumph at Wisconsin. The Badgers (2-2-0) rallied after Enrique Cardenas (Coachella/Coachella Valley HS) provided the Anteaters a 2-0 lead with a pair of yeoman's goals in the first six minutes of the second half.
- Kevin Venegas (Lakewood/Los Alamitos HS) sent Cal State Fullerton (3-0-1) to a 2-1 win over UW Green Bay at UNLV's tournament, converting a 73rd-minute penalty kick for the winner.
- Chris Smith (Palmdale/Quartz Hill HS) fed goals by Taylor Bowlin and Yarden Azulay as Cal State Northridge (2-2-0) romped, 3-0, over Missouri State at New Mexico's tournament.