SDSU wins tournament with 2-1 overtime victory against UC Irvine


Abraham Jewett

Junior midfeidler Emil Kjellker celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime of the Aztecs’ 2-1 victory over UC Irvine on Sept. 9, 2018 at the SDSU Sports Deck.

by Daniel Guerrero, Contributor

San Diego State men’s soccer needed overtime to defeat UC Irvine, 2-1, during the finale of the Courtyard Marriott San Diego Central Aztec Soccer Tournament on Sunday evening at the SDSU Sports Deck.

SDSU (2-2-1) fell behind early, but used two late goals to secure its fifth championship in the events 11 year history.

Head coach Lev Kirshner said the team was happy to come away victorious in the hometown tournament.

“Obviously we are super excited about winning our own tournament,” Kirshner said. “I hate giving the trophy to the other team, so that makes us very happy.”

The Aztecs trailed 1-0 until the 85th minute, when junior defender Miles Stray tied the game with a header off of a free kick from redshirt junior Pablo Pelaez.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Stray said about his equalizer. “Pablo played a great ball in, I didn’t really have to do much; it was served on a spoon.”

SDSU secured the victory two minutes into sudden death overtime, after junior midfielder Emil Kjellker scored on a sliding shot off an assist from redshirt sophomore midfielder Keegan Kelly.

Kirshner said capitalizing on dead ball opportunities, like SDSU did late in the game and in overtime, can determine a team’s season.  

“We talk about seasons being dictated by dead balls and your seasons being dictated by overtime,” Kirshner said. “The goals came off dead balls, and we won in overtime.”

Irvine (3-2-1) took the early lead after sophomore midfielder Alvaro Quezada slipped behind the Aztecs defense in the third minute, scoring a goal in the far post off an assist from senior midfielder Ivan Canales.

The Aztecs offense, meanwhile, took only three shots in the first half, while Irvine’s attack kept the pressure on, getting six shots off by the end of the opening period.

SDSU also struggled with penalties, racking up four yellow cards during the match, which Kirshner said affected their game plan and the way they used their substitutions.

“It just makes you more nervous on the bench,” Kirshner said. “You sit there and now you’re trying to make decisions on whether or not you need to make a substitution for fear of a second yellow.”

SDSU was awarded three corners towards the end of the second half, and had multiple free kick opportunities near the Irvine penalty area as they looked to even the game in the final minutes.

Kirshner said the Aztecs are learning to play better together as the season progresses.

“I think we’re playing better and better and getting to understand ourselves more,” he said. “What I liked about tonight was the adjustment that we made to tactically beat them and how it got executed.”

The Aztecs next match will be against Brown University on Sept. 14 at the SDSU Sports Deck.