SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Hosting a ranked opponent for the second time in as many matches, Sacramento State had a 1-0 lead into the 62nd minute but No. 25 UC Irvine was able to net an equalizer followed by the game winner with just 1:36 left in regulation for a 2-1 win.
Sacramento native Cameron Iwasa scored both goals for UC Irvine (6-3-2, 1-1-0 BWC), which rebounded from a 2-0 loss at UC Davis on Friday with Sunday's win. Sacramento State (2-5-3, 0-2-0 BWC) had the early lead off a goal by senior Almog Strikowski – his first since 2011 – before the Anteaters put together their comeback.
Senior goalkeeper Cesar Castillo made eight saves in the contest for the Hornets, including several superb stops to keep his team close. UC Irvine had a 20-7 overall shot advantage and a 10-2 edge in shots on goal, with Iwasa leading all players with four shots.
Junior Chimdum Mez nearly put the Hornets on the board in the 11th minute as his shot struck the left post, but Sacramento State would find the back of the net just six minutes later. Sophomore Edwin Luna made a run to the right of the Anteater goal and was able to send a centering pass from close range. Mez deflected the feed to Strikowski, who fired into the vacated UC Irvine goal to put the Hornets on top in the 17th minute.
Sacramento State continued on the attack and had another near miss in the 32nd minute as senior Isaac Ikyurav had a shot hit the crossbar. Castillo totaled four saves in the opening half as his team held the halftime lead.
UC Irvine came with more energy after the intermission and had a shot hit the post eight minutes into the second period. Castillo made a couple of saves in the ensuing minutes before Iwasa evened the score as he fired a shot from the top of the box off a Hornet defender and into the near post of the Hornet goal.
The anteaters had several more chances to score and the Hornets had three corner kicks but were able to put just one more shot on goal. The match appeared headed for overtime before the Anteaters were awarded a corner kick in the 89th minute roughly 30 yards out from the home goal. The set piece from senior Christopher Santana bent to Iwasa in the box, and the junior headed the redirect inside the Hornet goal past the dive of Castillo.
Santana picked up a red card just five seconds after UCI took the lead, and the Hornets had one last try with the man advantage but Mez sent a shot high in the final minute and the Anteaters closed out the win.
Sacramento State plays its first road conference games next week with matches at UC Riverside on Friday and Cal State Fullerton on Sunday.