IRVINE, Calif. -- Cal State Fullerton got a late goal from Mark Vasquez, but it wasn't enough as UC Irvine got a pair of goals and held on to win, 2-1.
With the loss the Titans fall to 6-9-1, 3-4-1 on the season with 10 points in conference play, while the Anteaters improve to 10-4-3, 5-2-1 with 16 points to take over the lead in the South Division as UC Riverside beat Cal State Northridge this evening, 1-0, to knot the Titans with the Highlanders in third in the division and make things very interesting for the final week of regular-season play.
Fullerton and Irvine played even through the first period with both teams taking six shots, none of them for a score. Mats Bjurman got the Anteaters on the board in the 51st minute with a successful flick off an assist by Cameron Iwasa with Titans goalkeeper Bryan Escalante approaching. Irvine extended its lead in the 73rd minute when Christopher Santana received a pass of a foul kick from Bjurman and beat the wall with a low shot from five yards out.
Vasquez' goal came in the 85th minute on a free kick as the junior found the back of the net in the upper left corner. The Titans managed a few offensive sets toward the end of the match, but Irvine goalkeeper Michael Breslin tamped down the defense and came away with his 10th win in goal.
"We started the game on our front foot and pressed the game positively. We had a number of good chances that we just didn't put away. The free kick goal that decided the game was the result of poor judgment. These conference games are so tight you can't give away goals like that," head coach Bob Ammann said after the contest.
The Anteaters managed 10 shots in the second half, a distinct offensive advantage, as the Titans only took three shots. Both keepers notched four saves on the evening and UC Irvine had a 5-3 advantage in corner kicks.
"We showed great character and I was very proud of the players as they kept battling until the end. We have everything to play for in these final regular season games," Ammann added.
Fullerton next hosts Cal State Northridge on Wednesday night, Nov. 6, in Titan Stadium with both squads looking to earn vital points in the conference. The Titans conclude the regular-season at UC Riverside on Saturday, Nov. 9, and each team will be looking to advance to the Big West tournament. (Three teams from each division make the event.)
Six Titan seniors will be honored before the match on Wednesday night.