By Ryan Maquiñana
Special to S.F. Examiner
Eric Pearce can add another chapter to his Cinderella story, as the true freshman defender earned his first minutes for UCLA in a 3-0 win over UC Riverside last Wednesday.
“I didn’t really expect to play going into the game,” said the 19-year-old Lowell High School alumnus. “When Coach [Ryan] Jorden yelled my name to come over, all my teammates started hyping me up because they knew I had been waiting for this for a while.”
The fact that Pearce was even on the bench to begin with was a minor miracle in itself. After entering his senior year without any college offers, he turned a productive season with Lowell and his club team, the San Francisco Glens, into a shot with Pac-12 Conference powerhouse UCLA.
Entering the game midway through the second half, Pearce was potent on the right wing, creating one scoring chance with a pinpoint pass and even getting his head on a corner kick moments later that skied wide.
“Once I got onto the pitch, it felt pretty natural,” Pearce said. “It was basically just 25 minutes of sprints for me since I wanted to get forward and score a goal, but that also meant I had to make all the recovery runs since I was at right back.”
Pearce hopes he showed Jorden enough to merit more playing time in the future, citing former Glens midfielder Andrew Paoli among the upperclassmen providing guidance. Paoli had two assists in the Bruins’ victory.
“I’m happy I got my chance,” Pearce said. “Hopefully I can just keep building off of it and continue to improve.”
Here’s a quick snapshot of the rest of the Glens’ USL League Two players who were in action this past week for their respective colleges, three of which are ranked inside the Division I Top 15.
No. 2 STANFORD (7-1-1): Redshirt sophomore forward Zach Ryan scored his fourth goal of the season, but it was not enough as the Cardinal were knocked off the ranks of the unbeaten in double overtime last Thursday by No. 7 Washington, 2-1. Fellow Glens forward Arda Bulut started alongside Ryan.
No. 10 ST. MARY’S (8-1-0): With senior J.D. Michael anchoring the defense, the Gaels bounced back from their first loss in 31 regular-season matches with a 4-0 win over Sacramento State last Sunday.
No. 14 CAL STATE FULLERTON (8-1-1): Another Glen’s unbeaten streak come to an end last Wednesday as junior winger Rei Dorwart could only watch his Titans fall at James Madison 1-0 in overtime. Dorwart, who had been nursing an ankle ligament injury the past two games, was slated to return this weekend against Maryland.
SAN FRANCISCO (2-6-1): Junior defender Shayan Charalaghi started on the back line for the Dons in a 0-0 draw with Cal Poly last Thursday that broke a three-game losing skid.
CAL (5-2-1): Junior midfielder Francisco Perez, who played for the Glens in 2018, scored in the second minute last Thursday in the Golden Bears’ 2-1 victory over Oregon State.
PENN STATE (5-1-2): Forward Josh Dabora notched his first collegiate assist last Wednesday in the Nittany Lions’ 3-0 win over Michigan State. After crossing midfield, the redshirt freshman lobbed a beautiful deep ball for Andrew Privett in the 23rd minute that resulted in the second goal.
SAN DIEGO STATE (3-4-1): Redshirt freshman Kyle Colonna started in a 2-0 win over Brown last Sunday, even unleashing a shot on goal.
UC DAVIS (5-3-1): Former Glen Adam Mickelson doled out a crucial assist in the 80th minute as the Aggies downed St. Mary’s last week — a historic result that not only halted the Gaels’ 31-game unbeaten streak, but also their three-year undefeated run at home.
Current Glens midfielder Nabi Kibunguchy had a shot on goal and was also booked with a yellow card in the 62nd minute for a hard challenge.
SF STATE (5-1-0): Senior Jonny Orozco’s 65th-minute penalty kick was the difference as the Gators took down Stanislaus State 2-1 last Friday. Both of the midfielder’s goals have been game-winners this season.
In addition, Julio González Ponce finally made his SF State debut after the NCAA granted him clearance. The high-scoring freshman forward attended high school in his native El Salvador before immigrating to the United States and finishing at Mission High School. As a result, there was a holdup in his paperwork, specifically his foreign transcripts.
HOLY NAMES (3-4-1): Junior winger Josiah Romero threatened the Point Loma defense with five shots last Thursday but was unable to add to his three goals on the season in a scoreless draw.
GOUCHER COLLEGE (1-7-1): Pearce’s old U-18 Glens teammate Joe May, who also attended Lowell before finishing high school at Orinda Academy, has enjoyed a busy first month as a college goalkeeper.
Called into starting duty for the Gophers last week, the true freshman shone in net with 11 saves to preserve a 2-2 draw with Drew University. May has also impressively stopped six and seven shots in two other outings.
CITY COLLEGE OF SF (2-0-5): Another Glens U-18 product, T.K. Elbert, ran his goal total to three last week in the Rams’ 2-2 draw with Santa Rosa Junior College. The freshman midfielder, who starred at Washington High School last season, also has an assist this season.