UC Irvine had final-four aims a year ago, when head coach George Kuntz's talented, senior-heavy team climbed into the top 10 before an upset loss to Cal State Fullerton in the conference tournament and a poor RPI kept it out of the NCAA tournament, one of the most stunning omissions we've seen in the men's soccer brackets.
Expectations this fall aren't so towering. The Anteaters were picked fourth in the Big West Conference's preseason coaches poll, behind UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly and Fullerton.
Might want to rethink that.
Irvine is off to a 6-0-0 start for the first time in school history after rallying twice from first-half deficits, then pulling away to a 4-2 non-conference victory Sunday at Midwest power Illinois-Chicago.
Enrique Cardenas (Coachella/Coachella Valley HS) scored in the 58th minute and Christopher Santana in the 77th to lift the Anteaters, who are No. 9 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America men's Division I rankings.
UIC (2-1-2) went ahead twice, on goals off corner kicks by Zach Kaleta in the fourth minute and Craig Krzyskowski in the 22nd, but UCI answered immediately both times, through Christian Hernandez (Palmdale/Palmdale HS) in the 13th and Jonathan Rivas (Norwalk/Santa Fe HS and Cerritos College) in the 24th.
In other men's action:
Ryan Lee and Chandler Hoffman scored first-half goals to lead UCLA (2-2-1) past 10-man Loyola Marymount (2-3-0). The Bruins dominated the game, outfiring LMU, 13-4; the Lions were handicapped when Logan McDaniel (Palmdale/Quartz Hills HS) was red-carded in the 14th minute, just 23 seconds after Lee tallied.
Jesse Escalante (Placentia/Valencia HS) and Nick Posthuma (Pasadena/St. Francis HS) scored to lead Cal State Fullerton (4-0-1) past San Francisco, 2-0, to win UNLV's event, the Titans' second tournament championship in as many weekends.
Cal State Northridge (2-3-0), just seven minutes from victory, surrendered three goals in 97 seconds and lost, 3-1, to New Mexico in the decisive encounter of the Lobos' tournament. Gustavo Villalobos (Van Nuys/Birmingham HS) tallied for the Matadors in the 35th minute.
Cesar Diaz Pizzaro (Chino/Ayala HS) scored in the 71st minute to lead UC Riverside (2-2-0) past St. Mary's, 1-0.
No. 6 UC Santa Barbara (4-0-1) posted its third successive shutout but couldn't find the net in a scoreless draw with visiting Villanova.
Daniel Gomez (Ontario/Chino HS and Rio Hondo College) scored in the 16th minute and goalkeeper Kris Minton (Lake Forest/El Toro HS) stopped Sasha Chalak's 87th-minute penalty to send Cal Poly Pomona (3-1-0) past San Francisco State, 1-0, and to its second California Collegiate Athletic Association victory of the weekend. Broncos star forward Luis Gonzalez (Long Beach/Millikan HS and Cerritos College) was sent off with two yellow cards in the closing minutes.
Cal State L.A.'s Rosario Bras and Cal State Dominguez Hills' Jordan Rover (Los Alamitos/Los Alamitos HS) traded second-half goals in a 1-1 CCAA draw in Carson.
Nick Echeverry (Anaheim/Servite HS) scored with 23 seconds to go in overtime to lift Chapman past Redlands, 1-0. The Orange-based Panthers (5-0-0) are off to their best start in 16 years; Redlands (1-2-0) is the third Southern California Intercollegiate Athetic Conference team to lose to Chapman in the past week.
Jake Bishop tallied nine seconds before the end of regulation, and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (2-1-0) topped Whitworth (Wash.), 2-1.
WOMEN: USC falls again in its tournament
Streaky USC followed a three-game losing streak to start the season with three successive women's soccer victories. Things have turned sour again for the Women of Troy.
A first-half goal by Autumn Altamirano (Tustin/Beckman HS) wasn't enough in a 2-1 overtime loss to Texas in the finale of the Trojan Invitational at McAllister Park, USC´s second successive loss to a Big 12 Conference foe.
Lexi Harris scored in the 80th minute to force overtime, and Vanessa Ibewiuke tallied 12 minutes into overtime to lift the Longhorns (6-2-0). USC is 3-5-0.
Fourth-ranked Oklahoma State won the tournament, holding off San Diego, 2-1, in the first game.
In other women's action:
No. 6 UCLA (6-0-1) pulled away in the second half to a 4-1 triumph over visiting Fresno State, with All-America striker Sydney Leroux scoring her fifth and sixth goals of the season. Freshmen Sam Mewis and Ally Courtnall (Westlake Village/Oaks Christian HS) also tallied for the Bruins.
No. 11 UC Irvine stayed even with second-ranked Stanford until the 71st minute, then surrendered goals 82 seconds apart to Chioma Ubogagu and Teresa Noyola in a 2-1 loss at the Cardinal's tournament.
Kishi Smith (Chatsworth/Chatsworth HS) scored with 44 seconds to go in overtime, and Cal State Fullerton (2-4-1) pulled out a 1-0 triumph over visiting Columbia. The Titans outshot the New Yorkers, 30-7, with Smith setting a school record with 12 shots, to claim their first overtime victory since August 2008.
Pepperdine won LSU's tournament behind offensive MVP Laura Cole (Whittier/La Habra HS), whose goal early in the first half led the 13th-ranked Waves (6-0-2) to a 1-1 draw with the host Tigers.
Brittney Sanford's third goal of the season, in the 10th minute, was enough for Loyola Marymount, which posted its third straight shutout in a 1-0 triumph over visiting SMU.
Nicole Sweetman (Oxnard/Oaks Christian HS and UCLA) gave Long Beach State lead early in the second half, but the 49ers (4-3-1) settled for a 1-1 draw at San Diego State.
Colleen Williams' goal in the 11th minute carried Dayton (6-1-0) past Cal State Northridge, 1-0, in the title game of Purdue's Boilermaker Classic.
Brittany Wilding (Rancho Cucamonga/Los Osos HS) tallied as Cal State San Bernardino (2-1-1), ranked 19th in the NCAA Division II poll, held No. 5 UC San Diego to a 1-1 draw in California Collegiate Athletic Association play.
Jessica Murphy (Torrance/West Torrance HS) scored in the third minute and Cal State Dominguez Hills (4-0-0) beat No. 11 Cal State L.A. (2-2-0), the Toros' second successive CCAA win over a ranked team.
Freshman Arianna Vaughn (West Covina/South Hills HS) scored a first-half hat trick as Concordia (7-1-0), No. 9 in the NAIA poll, dominated Warner (Fla.), 7-0.
Cal Lutheran 1 (Kuntz 67), Gustavus Adolphus (Minn.) 2 (Lilly 5, 96), OT
Cal State Dominguez Hills 1 (Rover 65), Cal State L.A. 1 (Bras 52), OT
Cal State Fullerton 2 (Escalante 40, Posthuma 51), San Francisco 0
Cal State San Bernardino 1 (Esqueda 41), UC San Diego 2 (Portela 54, Valenciano 56)
Ill.-Chicago 2 (Kaleta 4, Krzyskowski 22), UC Irvine 4 (Hernandez 12, Rivas 24, Cardenas 58, Santana 77)
New Mexico 3 (Venter 84, Sandoval 85, Smith 86), Cal State Northridge 1 (Villalobos 35)
Redlands 0, Chapman 1 (Echeverry 110), OT
San Francisco State 0, Cal Poly Pomona 1 (Gomez 16)
Soka 1 (Takahata 58), Westminster (Utah) 2 (Sellis pen. 32, Peabody 88)
UC Riverside 1 (Diaz Pizzaro 71), St. Mary´s 0
UC Santa Barbara 0, Villanova 0, OT
UCLA 2 (Lee 13, Hoffman 27), Loyola Marymount 1 (Jozkowicz 52)
Whitworth (Wash.) 1 (Coxe 80), Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 2 (Bernstein 4, Bishop 90)
Cal State Dominguez Hills 1 (Murphy 3), Cal State L.A. 0
Cal State Fullerton 1 (Smith 110), Columbia 0, OT
Cal State San Bernardino 1 (Wilding 23), UC San Diego 1 (Callahan 50), OT
Chapman 3 (Sobol 5, Do 48, Evans 54), Gustavus Adolphus (Minn.) 0
Dayton 1 (Williams 11), Cal State Northridge 0
Lewis & Clark (Ore.) 0, La Verne 0, OT
Loyola Marymount 1 (Sanford 10), SMU 0
LSU 1 (Arlitt 60), Pepperdine 1 (Cole 56), OT
Occidental 1 (Minamishin 25), Willamette (Ore.) 2 (Wetzel 11, Rowan 39)
San Diego 1 (Garcia 66), Oklahoma State 2 (Marchesano 58, Treadwell 70)
San Diego State 1 (Keane 70), Long Beach State 1 (Sweetman 53), OT
San Francisco State 0, Cal Poly Pomona 0, OT
Soka 9 (Barclay 14, Orui 18, Crickmar 28, Conrad 32, McClanahan 40, Vasquez 53, 65, 90, Okazaki 66), Mills 0
Stanford 2 (Ubogagu 71, Noyola 72), UC Irvine 0
UC Riverside 0, Virginia Commonwealth 1 (Johansen 102)
UCLA 4 (Leroux 7, 58, Mewis 65, Courtnall 67), Fresno State 1 (Kret 42)
USC 1 (Altamirano 34), Texas 2 (Harris 80, Ibewuike 103), OT
Warner (Fla.) 0, Concordia 7 (Kortizija 5, Lopez 8, Vaughn 21, 25, 42, Hook 31, Prindible 84)