FULLERTON, Calif.--- Cal State Fullerton senior midfielder Ritchie Gonzalez took a match-high four shots and recorded a goal, as the Titans dropped a close one to California, Monday night at Titan Stadium in the team's exhibition opener by the final of 3-2.
It wasn't an easy start for the Titans, as starting goalkeeper Bryan Escalante picked up a quick red card in the 10th minute, after he charged out of the box and challenged the ball with an aggressive tackle.
Despite being sent off, both sides agreed to still play at full strength because of the exhibition circumstances.
Fullerton then started to find a rhythm offensively, as it generated six shots, aided by three corner kicks in the first half.
The Titans were able to finally break through in the 37th minute, as Gonzalez slotted one into the left corner, after junior midfielder Garrett Losee delivered a perfect touch pass in the center of the box.
Fullerton went into the intermission with a 1-0 advantage, thanks in part to numerous saves by junior goalkeeper Robbie Hannon, who replaced Escalante after he was sent off.
However, It didn't take long for the Bears to strike back in the second half, as forward Stefano Bonomo netted one in the bottom left corner, taking advantage of a counter attack to level things up at 1-1 in the 47th minute.
The Bears continued to get their chances in the second half, outshooting the Titans 7-to-4, while also having three more corner kick opportunities. Within 12 minutes Cal put away two more goals to make it a 3-1 lead.
But the Titans were resilient, as Losee got involved on his second goal of the day, this time scoring it in the 70th minute, after freshman defender Elliott Braund fed him a beautiful ball that ended up in the left corner of the net to pull Fullerton within one.
With still over 20 minutes left in regulation, the Titans nearly tied things back up on several occasions, as junior midfielder Ian Ramos showed why he was a 2012 first team All-Conference selection, as he dribbled his way into the box numerous times, but never could quite find a chance for the equalizer.
After 90 minutes of play, both sides agreed to play an additional 30 minutes to get some extra work in. Neither team scored in the extra time, but sophomore forward Dyllan Stevens picked up a yellow card for the Titans, while Tommy Padia was issued a yellow as well for Cal.
Fullerton will get back on the pitch this Thursday at 7:00 p.m., as it will welcome UNLV to Titan Stadium in the team's final exhibition contest before beginning the regular season Aug. 30 vs. Memphis.