UC San Diego Men’s Club Soccer began the 2015-16 campaign on Friday night, September 25th, with games against Colorado State University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the opening round of the 10th Annual Aztec Cup. This year’s Aztec Cup pool was so large that UC San Diego and University of San Diego joined San Diego State in co-hosting the tournament so Friday’s action took place on our very own Warren Field.
UC San Diego came from behind twice to tie Colorado State 2-2 on goals from third-year captain Quinn Frantzen and new Spanish international Pepe Tovar Pardo. Despite struggling early on with organization and communication, the UC San Diego midfield turned in a solid performance, anchored by former captain Kazu Otani and senior Adam Zeman. With the anxious inaugural performance out of the way, the team steeled itself to face longtime nemesis Cal Poly mere hours later.
As usual, Cal Poly proved a physical and disciplined opponent in what was by far the more exciting match of the night. SLO brought consistent pressure all game long but the UC San Diego defense, featuring club veteran Jonathan Salmeron alongside new freshman Bailey Marsheck, held their ground and repeatedly shut down the visitors’ advances. UC San Diego took the lead in the 51st minute when senior captain Henry Cullen’s free kick from just outside the penalty box skimmed off the wall and over the outstretched goalkeeper. Only ten minutes later Cal Poly responded with a goal of their own coming from a broken play in the San Diego penalty box that the defense failed to clear. Both sides had chances to break the deadlock but the game ended in a fitting 1-1 draw.
With only two points from their group stage effort, UC San Diego found themselves playing Gonzaga University in Saturday’s consolation match. Goals from sophomore Kenan Mesic and Pepe Tovar Pardo lifted UC San Diego over their outmatched opponents from Spokane.
Despite not advancing in the tournament, UC San Diego looked promising in all three games especially given that regular team practices had not even begun. Fans can catch the 2015 season opener at the University of San Diego on Sunday at 3pm.