Cal State Fullerton men’s soccer (2-3-1 in Big West play) will look to continue its conference season turnaround against the last-place UC Irvine Anteaters (2-4 conference) Wednesday night.
Coming off a win in which they prevailed over a UC Riverside team that was undefeated in conference play, the Titans are in prime position to make a run for the Big West title. Fullerton will look to bring its Big West record to .500, whereas the Anteaters will look to avenge four conference losses.
The Titan offense is finally clicking, with senior Alex Heilmann leading the team in goals with eight. Heilmann will attempt to get back to his scoring ways against UC Irvine after netting one goal in his last five games.
Sophomore Ronaldo Pineda’s recent activity up top has provided a spark for Fullerton. Pineda, along with midfielders Nicolo D’Amato and Ross McPhie, each sport two goals under their belts.
CSUF’s depth has set it apart from other teams in the conference. Players like Jacob Perez, who scored the winning goal against UCR, Rei Dorwart and Michael Lopez have helped pick defenses apart as well as create many chances within the attacking third.
Despite allowing seven goals in the last five games, Fullerton’s defense, led by senior Ricardo Covarrubias, appeared impenetrable in the win over the Anteaters, limiting its errors and maintaining a tight back line to thwart any serious threats from Riverside.
The Titans were given new life by the recent reinsertion of Big West Defensive Player of the Week David Elias into the starting lineup. Elias is also en route to completing the most shutouts in Titan history as he only needs four more clean sheets to surpass the all-time record.
Collectively, the Titans are averaging a .089 shot percentage and 1.13 goals per game. Eleven of CSUF’s 17 total goals have been assisted.
Fullerton will need to be weary of the Anteater duo of Thomas Janjigian and Luis Leon who have tallied a combined five goals and six assists. Freshman Ivan Canales has also served UC Irvine well with his playmaking abilities, dishing out three assists to go along with two goals.
The Titans will attempt to start their second winning streak of the year at Titan Stadium when they host UC Irvine on Wednesday at 7 p.m.