It was a tale of three seasons where all things being equal, the team would've like to have had the middle appear at the end.
After managing an offseason of change, where Fullerton's head coach Bob Ammann balanced an onslaught of 16 incoming players, the largest total recruiting class of the Ammann era, as the opening scene for the 2013 campaign. A tough exhibition schedule helped the coaching staff prepare as they worked to blend players' talents with the team's philosophy and the riggors of west coast soccer.
The team opened play on the road at a tournament hosted by Big West rival Cal State Northridge (Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament) and played Memphis tough, but lost, 1-0, before beating Albany at the event two days later, 2-1. Goals by Zach Bryan and Ritchie Gonzalez highlighted the day.
An opening home match loss to Loyola Marymount was followed by a trip to San Diego and a painful loss for the young team in double overtime. Then, the team headed to the east coast (Ithaca, N.Y.) for a visit to Cornell and suffered a 2-1 loss in overtime, followed on Sunday with a 3-1 loss to Colgate. The trip was painful not just because the Titans found themselves mired in a slump, but because of the significant loss of the services of senior stalwart and goal scorer, Ritchie Gonzalez. His season would be ended with an injury.
Returning to the road the following weekend, this time at Nebraska-Omaha, the Titans rebounded to win, 3-0, on goals scored by Garrett Losee, Amara Soumah and Jaime Cano. The final non-conference match was at home against an unknown, but well-prepared, Grand Canyon University team. It was the first meeting ever between the schools and Cal State Fullerton came away with the win, 3-2, in regulation. Goals by Ian Ramos, Marc Fenelus, and Steven Ortiz notched the victory. Fenelus, for his part, earned LA Soccer News Men's College Player-of-the-Week honors for his one goal and one assist performance.
With the non-conference portion of the season under their belts and a two-match streak on the chart, the Titans began Big West play with the North Division on the road at UC Santa Barbara at 3-5. The Gauchos won that match, 3-0, en route to finishing the regular season atop the Big West with a 7-0-3 record and a league-leading 24 points.
But the Titans followed up with three consecutive wins, at Cal Poly and at home versus UC Davis and Sacramento State to grab a share of the Big West South Division lead with then No. 5-ranked Cal State Northridge. The win at Cal Poly, 1-0, was highlighted by a Cano penalty kick. A goal by Jesse Vega was the only one the team would need in the 1-0 win over Davis. And, Losee and Dyllan Stevens scored the two goals in the 2-0 win over Sacramento State that sent the team to the top of the division on a three-game streak.
And then there were 53 seconds of chaos at Titan Stadium that marked the beginning of the third part of the Titans saga of 2013. Leading, 1-0, from the 36th minute when Losee had scored, until the 84:53 mark over UC Irvine, the Titans gave up a goal to the Anteaters, knotting the score. But on the ensuing kick off, Fenelus streaked down the field and scored nine seconds later, moving the Titans ahead, 2-1. It took Irvine 46 more seconds to re-tie the score as hardly the fans, the teams or the stats crew could regroup to acknowledge what had happened. The teams played two periods of overtime to a draw before everyone could breathe.
Later study concluded that the pair of goals within 9 seconds of one another ranked 7th on the NCAA all-time list and was the first time two goals had been scored in under 10 seconds since 2007.
The team went on the road to Northridge a few days later and played what may have been one of their best matches of the year and forced an overtime with the No. 5 team after a Soumah goal tied the squads at ones in regulation. But the Matadors struck quickly in the golden-goal first period and the Titans lost, 2-1.
The final four matches all were lost by a one-goal margin, and both contests with Riverside were agonizingly lost after holding leads early. Cal State Fullerton, in position to claim a trip to the conference tournament until the 84:53 mark of the match at Riverside, when the Highlanders put back a deflected corner kick to beat the Titans, 3-2, and claim the third spot in the conference tournament.
Goals scored at home vs. UCR by Spencer Johnson, at Irvine by Mark Vasquez and at Riverside by Alex Cannas and Ramos highlighted those four consecutive losses by the Titans. In the end, 13 different Titans scored on the 2013 season for Cal State Fullerton, led by Ramos who notched four goals. For his efforts the junior earned All-Big West Honorable Mention accolades.
Coaches Ammann, Adam Reeves and Brian Lanoye and the team would have preferred that the play through the North division could've continued through the South division. Definitely, they all would prefer not to have seen the number 84:53 appear as bookend time-stamps to a pair of goals that doomed their otherwise best efforts.