IRVINE, Calif. --- UC Irvine and UC Riverside jockeyed back and forth on Saturday night in Anteater Stadium, but the Highlanders would score the game-winner in the 88th minute to steal a win from the 'Eaters on senior night.
UCI (13-5-1, 5-3-1) was able to get on the board first in the 12th minute. The Anteaters gained possession and Christopher Santana (Bishop / Bishop Union HS) streaked up the side of the field all the way down near the end line. He would cross one into the box to Cameron Iwasa (Sacramento / Jesuit HS). His shot went right on UCR keeper, Cody Suppe, but he was unable to secure it as the ball bounded off him and behind him into the net.
UCI would hang on to the early, 1-0, lead for a while. It had a few opportunities to add to it. Everett Pitts (Chino Hills / Ayala HS) put a header on net, but it was knocked away by Suppe's foot. Another chance came off a UCI shot on net that was stopped. The rebound went to Christian Hernandez (Palmdale / Taft College) who fired a shot high from directly in front of the net as the score remained 1-0, UCI.
UC Riverside (9-5-2, 4-3-1) would take advantage and march right down the field for a goal of their own. Hayden Leslie punted a free kick from 40 yards out. His pass found Jose Diaz in the box, and he would shovel a shot past senior keeper, Andrew Fontein (Las Vegas, Nev. / Sierra Vista HS), to tie it up at 1-1 in the 39th minute.
The teams would go into the half tied, and it would stay that way until midway through the second half.
Miguel Ibarra (Lancaster / Taft College) received a pass and closed in on the goal. His shot would be saved, but the rebound came back to him. He would chip it to the side to a wide-open Hernandez who would finish putting his shot inside the left post giving UCI a 2-1 advantage in the 68th minute.
The Highlanders would respond in the 79th minute. Richie Osborne served a corner kick up, but UCI would head it back to him. Osborne's return cross went long to Humberto Santiago standing all alone. He settled it and found some space inside the right post to tie the game up, again, at 2-2.
UCR would break the pattern and score again in the 88th minute. Richie Osborne got past the defense and dribbled up the right side. He would cross to Cesar Diaz Pizarro who would settle the ball and put it in for the eventual game-winner.
After a red card by the Highlanders with just over a minute to go, the 'Eaters had one more shot as Santana found Ibarra at the top of the box, but was called offside, and the Highlanders were able to run down the clock for its fourth conference win.
For the 'Eaters, Iwasa netted his second goal of the season. It was his second in the last three matches, and now has goals in back-to-back home matches.
The goal by Hernandez was his seventh of the season. He regains the team lead in goals and in points with 21 on the season.
Ibarra earned his 20th point with his assist, and he now leads the squad with eight assists on the year.
Santana earned his fourth assist on the season giving him 10 points. He is now fourth on the team in each category.
The loss leaves the 'Eaters at 5-3-1 in conference as they remain in first place with 16 points. They have one match remaining as they travel to Cal Poly for a 7:00 p.m. match, Tue. Nov. 1.