Los Angeles Soccer: Zach Bautista
The W-League's Western Conference title appears to be headed the Pali Blues' way or to the Seattle Sounders. They're the chief contenders just four weeks into the campaign.
Pali completed sweeps of its Southern California rivals, both of them one-goal home wins, to improve to 4-0-0. The Sounders, also 4-0-0, won three games last week with U.S. national team stars Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, Sydney Leroux, Megan Rapinoe and Stephanie Cox on hand.
Morgan (Diamond Bar/Diamond Bar HS) scored and assisted Lyndsey Patterson's goal in the 3-0 romp Monday night over Colorado Rapids' women's team. Leroux (UCLA) had an assist in a 2-1 win Thursday over the third-place Colorado Rush (3-1-0), a match that sold out the Starfire Sports Complex's 4,500-seat stadium in Tukwila, Wash.
Pali, which is affiliated with the L.A. Blues' men's team (both are coached by Charlie Naimo), got goals from Nikki Washington and Liz Bogus to beat the L.A. Strikers, 2-1, then pulled out a 1-0 triumph over Santa Clarita Blue Heat on Australian national-teamer Servet Uzunlar's goal three minutes into second-half stoppage.
The Blues and Sounders meet twice this season: June 20 in Tukwila and in the July 15 regular-season finale at Palisades High School.
Elsewhere in minor-league soccer:
Cesar Diaz Pizarro struck with 2― 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.
A scoreless draw was enough to give UC Irvine command of the Big West Conference race.
The ninth-ranked Anteaters (13-4-1) held off a late Cal State Northridge push in the Valley to notch their seventh shutout of the season and improve to 5-2-1 in the Big West, giving them a one-point lead over UC Davis (5-3), which lost at UC Santa Barbara. The Matadors are 7-7-2.
UC Irvine has two games remaining -- Saturday at home against UC Riverside and Tuesday at Cal Poly -- and likely will need victories in both to claim the conference crown.
In other menīs action:
- Tim Pontius (Yorba Linda/Servite HS) scored twice to lead UC Santa Barbara (10-5-1) to a 3-1 win over UC Davis, knocking the Aggies to second place in the Big West.
- Cesar Diaz Pizarro (Chino/Ayala HS) scored in the 65th minute to give UC Riverside (8-5-3) a 1-1 Big West draw with visiting Cal State Fullerton (7-5-4). Oscar Aguero (Anaheim/Katella HS) tallied in the first half for the Titans.
- Gabe Ramirez (Pasadena/Crescenta Valley HS) set up goals by Evan Keny-Guyer and Richie Marquez (Pomona/Bloomington HS) as Redlands (16-3-0), the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion, romped to a 3-1 victory at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (8-4-1).
Big West Conference rivals Cal State Northridge and UC Riverside pulled off stunning upsets Saturday night, winning on the road against Southern California's most storied programs.
The Matadors rallied for a 3-2 nonconference triumph at eighth-ranked UCLA, and Riverside beat No. 16 UC Santa Barbara -- also by a 3-2 scoreline -- for the second time this season.
Northridge (7-7-1) halted the Bruins' second five-game winning streak of the campaign. Riverside (8-5-2) handed the Gauchos their second successive Big West loss, leaving the national power in danger of missing the conference and NCAA tournaments.
In Westwood, Jose Luis Garcia (Sun Valley/Poly HS) set up goals by Brian Behrad (Woodland Hills/Taft HS) in the 83rd minute and Edwin Rivas (Los Angeles/Santee Educational Complex) in the 87th as Northridge rallied from a late deficit.
Freshman Christian Gonzalez Diaz (Mission Viejo/Mission Viejo HS) gave the Matadors a 34th-minute lead, but Chandler Hoffman netted his 12th and 13th goals of the season in the next 10 minutes to push UCLA (10-4-1) ahead.
In Santa Barbara, Cesar Diaz Pizzarro (Chino/Ayala HS) scored in the 72nd minute to lift Riverside (8-5-2), which climbed to third place in the Big West.
UC Santa Barbara (9-5-1) rallied twice from deficits, with Luis Silva (Los Angeles/Salesian HS) scoring his 10th goal of the year and setting up Sam Garza for another, but couldn't hold off the Highlanders.
Richie Osborne provided the first lead, about midway through the first half, and Jon-Paul Medina made it 2-1 in the 63rd.
In other men's action:
- Freshman Cameron Iwasa tallied three minutes into overtime to send Big West co-leader UC Irvine (13-4-0) to a 1-0 victory over Orange County rival Cal State Fullerton (7-5-3). Jimmy Turner (Mission Viejo/Mission Viejo HS) played his 76th career game for the seventh-ranked Anteaters, fifth-most in program history.
The match was a showdown between two of the Big West's three two-win teams and sent the seventh-ranked Anteaters (11-2-0) to 3-1, ahead of Northridge (5-5-1) at 2-1 and UC Davis at 2-2.
Ibarra (Lancaster/Lancaster HS) gave Irvine a 58th-minute lead through a give-and-go with Jimmy Turner (Mission Viejo/Misson Viejo HS) and a deflection off a Matadors defender. Memo Licona (Lake Forest/Laguna Hills HS) set up the second goal in the 89th minute.
In other men's action:
- Sam Garza scored in the seventh minute of overtime, and No. 19 UC Santa Barbara (8-3-1) toppled UC Davis, 2-1, for its first Big West victory. The Gauchos lost their first two conference games, to UC Riverside and UC Irvine, but bounced back Wednesday with a 3-2 overtime victory over third-ranked Akron.
- Osvaldo Bastida (Anaheim/Katella HS) scored in the first half for Cal Baptist (7-4-0) in a 1-0 win over Western Washington at the Grand Canyon Tournament in Phoenix.
- Redlands (11-3-0) is closing in on the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title following a 2-0 victory at second-place Pomona-Pitzer (6-5-0) on goals by Alex Laughton and Will Walker. The Bulldogs are 8-0-0 in SCIAC play; the Sagehens fell to 5-2-0.