California Baptist University and UC Riverside men’s soccer teams play to draw – Press Enterprise
RIVERSIDE — Leo Mendez made an impact in what could be his final “Crosstown Showdown.”
Mendez scored in the 80th minute as the California Baptist University and UC Riverside men’s soccer teams played to a 1-1 draw on Saturday night at a packed UCR Soccer Stadium.
“It was a really good goal from Leo,” CBU coach Coe Michaelson said. “He hit a banger there to pull us even.”
It was the 10th career collegiate goal for the King High School graduate as CBU (2-4-2 overall) grabbed a late equalizer in the first meeting between the programs since both qualified for last year’s NCAA Tournament.
“No matter how each team is doing it’s always a tough match,” Mendez said. “It’s a rivalry game so everyone comes out.”
Mendez has one more year of eligibility but said he will consider his professional playing options after this season.
“My first choice is pursuing soccer and following my dream,” Mendez said. “I have another year but I’m not sure if I’m going to be taking it yet. We’ll see how things do this season.”
Edward Castro scored his first career goal for UC Riverside (0-6-2) in the 50th minute, running onto a through ball from Jona Martinez and finishing inside the far post.
“Coach (Tim Cupello) is telling us to make more runs, so that’s what I’m trying to do for the team to create more options,” Castro said.
A transfer from Mt. San Antonio College, Castro previously played with L.A. Galaxy Academy and the Guatemalan U17 National Team.
“It’s a great to get a goal, but it would’ve been better if we got the win,” Castro said.
CBU dominated possession in the first half and had a point-blank shot attempt pushed aside by UC Riverside goalkeeper Carlos Gonzalez in the 33rd minute.
Neither team produced another shot on target until Castro hit it past Lancers goalkeeper Nolan Premack about 5 minutes into the second half.
CBU responded with two shots on goal over the next 10 minutes. Both were turned away by Gonzalez, including a high-ranging effort to get a glancing save on a shot curving toward the back post in the 58th minute that delighted the sold-out crowd.
“Not our best, but we were able to fight our way back into it,” Michaelson said. “I won’t say, ‘We deserved to win.’ But we certainly deserved to pull level, and if we’re clinical we probably go home with a win.”
Cupello sent in waves of substitutions as the Highlanders, playing at home for the first time since their season opener on Aug. 24, clung to their lead in the second half.
“It’s just nice to be back home,” Cupello said. “We’ve been on the road for weeks, and to be back in front of our fans in a rivalry game and show some resiliency is something to build off.”
Both sides were issued two yellow cards in the second half, as referee Joseph Salinas got a handle on the physical play between the crosstown rivals.
Technical skill prevailed over brutish tactics when Mendez received the ball at the top of the penalty area, turned, took two touches to his right and whipped a right-footed shot that was into the net before Gonzalez could react.
“I opened up into some space, took a touch and shot it top corner,” Mendez said.
It’s the second draw in seven all-time meetings dating to 2005. UC Riverside holds a 3-2-2 advantage in the series.
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