Los Angeles Soccer: Kris Minton
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.