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'Eaters assume control

Men's Soccer

Ibarra overcomes cold to end Matadors' hot streak and propel UCI into sole possession of top spot in Big West Conference.

October 08, 2011|By Barry Faulkner

IRVINE — UC Irvine senior Miguel Ibarra stood two steps outside the post-game huddle of Anteaters, coughing uncontrollably into one sweat-drenched sleeve, then the other.

It was a cold-stricken Ibarra, shifted from midfield to forward about 12 minutes into the second half of a Big West Conference men's soccer home game against Cal State Northridge on Saturday, who proved to be the best medicine for a somewhat sluggish attack for the hosts.

Ibarra scored one goal and generated another to help No. 7-ranked UCI earn a 2-0 triumph to take sole possession of first place in what figures to be a balanced and potent conference.

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The win was the third straight for UCI (11-2, 3-1 in conference), which had lost two of three before beginning its recent roll against conference competition at UC Santa Barbara on Oct. 1.

The 'Eaters' victory also halted a three-game winning streak by the Matadors (5-5-1, 2-1), who had outscored opponents, 9-0, during the run.

"I thought we dominated possession against a good possession team that has been hot, very hot," UCI Coach George Kuntz said. "We've been working the last three weeks on closing down spaces [for opposing attackers] and we did a good job of that tonight. I think we played better and we kept the shutout."

Kuntz said Ibarra, who now has five goals and five assists to lead the team with 15 points (two points for a goal and one for an assist) was, as usual, a difference-maker, first at midfield, then up top.

"Wherever you put Miguel Ibarra, he dominates," Kuntz said of the 5-foot-7, 135-pound firefly who was responsible for the game's first goal when his cross caromed off Northridge defender Luis Gutierrez into the net for an own-goal in the 58th minute. "I wish I had seven of him, because he's so quick, so quick to the ball and so quick at reading. Wherever we need help and guys are dropping, fitness-wise, he goes. His cardio is beyond imagination. And he was sick tonight."

Ibarra contributed to the Matadors' sinking feeling in the final minute, clinching the victory by punching in a rebound. The final goal was initiated when freshman Victor Calderon sent a cross into the six-yard area that went off a defender and onto the foot of Ibarra just inside the far post.

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