With three minutes left in the game and the pressure on, the SF State men’s soccer team has the opportunity to tie the game. Down a goal, Gator captain Sasha Chalak squares up to take the penalty kick. As the ball flies to the bottom left corner of the net, Cal Poly Pomona goalie Kris Minton extends his body in time to stop the shot and maintain the lead.
Despite solid defense, the Gators failed to even the score against the Broncos in Sunday afternoon’s home game, losing 0-1 to the Broncos.
Both teams maintained possession with strong passing, but the Broncos’ Daniel Gomez turned up the heat when he scored the first goal of the game in the 15 minute off an assist from Sean Gurley. The assist by Gurley originated from a foul called on the Gators, which led to a free kick just outside of the goal box.
The Gators retaliated with aggressive offense and fought hard to try and tie the game, out-shooting the Broncos 18-9. However, the Gators could not find the back of the net, despite eight shots being on target.
Hunter recognizes how far the team has come. He said they played much better this year against the Broncos, and certain players brought different dynamics to the team. Hunter also acknowledges room for improvement and said finishing is one area the team will be focusing on this year.
“We should’ve finished on some of (the fouls),” said Gator center midfielder Chalak. “But we also should have created better opportunities.”
Chalak realized most of the playing took place in the midfield and that both teams struggled to hold plays near the net. He also said finishing was not the only area the Gators need to work on. He wants his team to focus on moving “off the ball” to create space for passing and quick touches.
Junior Fidel Medina agrees that this technique is a trend the team will focus on throughout the year. Medina, who plays forward, said the team is trying to play a more controlled game.
“This year, we’re not trying to force anything,” Medina said. “We’re trying to play more of a style of quick passing, because that’s when we’re dangerous.”
Hunter projects the Broncos will be one of the top three teams in the league, and he is pleased with the way his team held up to the challenge, regardless of the outcome.
The Broncos, who racked up four yellow cards and one red card due to fouling, played aggressively attempting to gain a second goal to ensure their lead. The Gators’ defense denied each attempt.
The Gators fought hard all game, and their coach respects their efforts and is confident in their play. Hunter said his team put on a good game, both for the players and for those watching in the stands.
“I thought we played well and measured up,” Hunter said. “Sometimes the game can be cruel.”