Nov. 10, 2010
Irvine, Calif. -
Nick Posthuma and Kevin Venegas scored first-half goals and freshman goalkeeper Bryan Escalante came up huge in his first collegiate start Wednesday night as No. 4-seeded Cal State Fullerton shocked host and No. 1-seed UC Irvine, 2-1, in the semifinals of the Big West Conference post-season tournament.
Fullerton (7-11-2), which lost to UCI (14-3-3), 7-2 and 3-1 earlier this season, will play at No.2 seeded UC Santa Barbara on Saturday at 7 p.m. for an automatic NCAA Tournament berth. UCSB beat No. 3 Cal Poly, 2-1, in overtime.
Fullerton beat No. 8-ranked UCI for only the second time in the last 20 meetings to even the all-time series at 18-18-6.
"The biggest thing tonight was attitude," said CSF Head Coach Bob Ammann. "We were able to put behind us all the bad things that happened to us this season. As soon as we clinched the tournament berth, we said this was a new season and everyone was 0-0. I couldn't be more pleased for the boys."
"I wasn't at practice Monday because I was sick, but I got a call that Trevor (Whiddon) got hurt in practice," said Escalante, who had played a total of 8 minutes all season. "I've been ready all season. We started communicating from minute one and my teammates were responding. We were a composed team."
Fullerton's first shot of the match produced a goal. Michael Denny whistled a pass to a streaking Jonathan Birt angling in from the right side. Birt accepted the ball in full stride and crossed it to Posthuma, who found the lower right corner for his team-leading ninth goal of the season.
The Titans' second shot had the same result. Oscar Aguero came up with a loose ball on the left side, dribbled toward the middle and fed Venegas, who drilled his seventh goal of the year for a 2-0 lead.
"I saw a spot to run to and he (Aguero) saw me and we made eye contact," said Venegas of his fourth game-winning goal of the season. "I found a spot in the net."
Zach Olow got the Anteaters on the board in the 78th minute with an unassisted goal from a steep angle on the left side to the far post. UCI's best chance to tie came about 6 minutes later when leading scorer Amani Walker made a rush but Escalante came out of the box to smother the ball before Walker could take a shot.
Escalante finished with 8 saves to 3 for UCI's Andrew Fontein. Fullerton was outshot, 18-8, including 10-2 in the first half. UCI had 7 cornerkicks to 2 for Fullerton.