'Eaters Trip Titans With Late Strike in Battle of O.C.
IRVINE, Calif. -- UC Irvine's Pavle Atanackovic finished with a three-point night, including the assist on Enrique Cardenas' game-winner with less than five minutes to play, lifting the host Anteaters to a 2-1 win over Cal State Fullerton on Saturday night in Irvine, Calif.
The loss was the fourth straight for the Titans, who fell to 4-10-1 overall and remained winless in Big West Conference play at 0-4-1. Irvine snapped a seven-match losing streak in improving to 4-9-1 overall and claimed its first conference win, moving to 1-4 on the season.
Cardenas' 86th minute strike snapped a 1-1 tie, helping the Anteaters rally from a 1-0 deficit after Fullerton had broken the scoreless deadlock with a goal just four minutes into the second half. The junior controlled a bouncing ball that had been flicked on by Atanackovic and took a shot that trickled off the hands of goalkeeper Robbie Hannon and skirt the inside of the left post for the eventual game-winner.
That score came just seconds after the Titans had a prime opportunity to claim the lead themselves as a header by Anthony Rosales from a Spencer Johnson corner kick was cleared off the line by a UCI defender. Fullerton also had a furious flurry in the 76th minute, taking four shots off three corner kicks in a two-minute span, but the Titans could not dent the back of the net.
Following a scoreless first half, leading scorer Jesse Escalante finally broke through, snapping a four-match scoreless streak with his seventh goal of the year by deflecting a hard cross from Jonathan Birt passed goalkeeper Michael Breslin for the 1-0 lead in the 49th minute.
The lead was fleeting, however, as Irvine found the equalizer only a minute later as Atanackovic headed home a rebound off a shot by Christopher Santana to make it 1-1 and set up Cardenas' winner.
The Titans outshot the Anteaters, 19-13 -- 12 of those coming in the second half -- and finished with eight corner kicks to just three for UCI. Escalante finished with a match-high six shots while Santana added four for the Anteaters.
After three-straight on the road, Fullerton returns home to take on Cal State Northridge on Wednesday (Oct. 17) before heading to UC Riverside on Saturday (Oct. 20). Both matches are scheduled to kick-off at 7 p.m. at their respective sites.