September 23, 2012

Escalante ‘Golden’ as Titans Win Third-Straight

FULLERTON, Calif. – Senior Jesse Escalante's curling goal with just under four minutes remaining in the first overtime period snapped a 1-1 tie and lifted host Cal State Fullerton to its third-straight victory, 2-1, over visiting San Diego on Sunday night at Titan Stadium.

The win moved the Titans to 4-6 overall on the year, bouncing back after the Toreros had scored the equalizer with just over five minutes remaining in regulation. San Diego dropped its third-consecutive match to fall to 2-5 overall this season with all five losses coming against Big West Conference teams.

"I am happy with the result but more pleased with how we played," Head Coach Bob Ammann said. "Going into the match we wanted to make sure we were the aggressors which I felt we were. Although scoring the first goal was important, I felt we set the tone with our play from the opening whistle."

For Escalante, it was his team-high sixth goal of the season and his fifth-consecutive match with a score dating back to Sept. 10 at Bakersfield. Off a long pass from sophomore Ian Ramos near midfield, the Placentia, Calif., native beat San Diego keeper Michael D'Arrigo to a loose ball on the left side, dribbled it out of his grasp, and curled a shot to the far right post to end the game.

Senior Gerzon Blanco gave Fullerton the early lead in the 23rd minute as Ramos danced through a defender before passing off to Ritchie Gonzalez, who fed Blanco for the 1-0 lead. It was Blanco's first goal of the year, the second assist of the season for Ramos, and the first helper for Gonzalez.

The score remained that way until the 85th minute when the Toreros finally drew even. San Diego, which outshot Fullerton by an 11-7 count in the second half, ramped up the pressure and drew a penalty when Titan keeper Adam Zepeda took down one of the Toreros in the box. Dan Delgado stepped up to the spot and put home his first goal of the year to tie the match and force overtime.

"We expected them to throw everything at us in the second half and I think we handled it well," Ammann said. "The late penalty to equalize didn't faze us. We got right back after it and were unlucky not to have scored on a couple of chances in the final minutes of regulation. The overtime period was just part of the process we needed to endure and experience. Ian's hard work and subsequent through ball to Jesse created the opportunity for a very special game winner."

Ramos led all Titans with four shots on the night while Patrick Wallen had six to lead all players and help USD to a, 20-18, advantage in the shot column. Zepeda, who missed Friday night's win over Air Force due to a red card, made nine saves in net for the Titans while D'Arrigo made three saves for the Toreros in the loss.

Cal State Fullerton returns to action on Friday (Sept. 28) at approximately 7:30 p.m. as the Titans host Cal Poly in their Big West Conference opener at Titan Stadium. The match will be the nightcap of a doubleheader with the Fullerton women's team, which hosts UC Irvine in its league opener at 5 p.m.

NOTES:
Escalante's sixth goal of the year matches the total from his previous three seasons as a Titan… Sunday's goal was Escalante's first game-winner of the year... Fullerton's three-match winning streak is a season best and the most consecutive victories since the Titans won four-straight from Sept. 3-16 last season… junior Ritchie Gonzalez notched his first assist of the year in the win… Blanco became the seventh different Titan to score this season with his first-half strike… With the win, Fullerton improved to 2-0 in overtime this season… the Titans have outscored the opposition, 7-2, during its three-match winning streak.