PHOTOS: Gator men's soccer locks in first conference play win against Cal State Monterey Bay
With the combination of poor luck and a good run of form from their midfield, the Gators were able to string together clean passes and easily execute over-the-top balls, two of which resulted in goals.
“For us to get a convincing win feels good, and I think the guys deserve it but now we’ve got to pick up another one on Sunday, and if we can pick up these last three we have something to hang our hats on and build toward the off season,” head coach Joe Hunter said
The scoring started when junior Eric Espinoza sent over a ball that met senior Edgar Villagrana at the top of his run. Villagrana cleanly slotted it past the keeper across the front of goal for his third conference goal of the season.
Villagrana said that he was really pleased his team was able to get their first win going into his last homestand as a Gator.
“We talked about it before the game, just about the bad luck we’ve had and how we needed to stay positive,” Villagrana said. “I can’t express how happy I am.”
The Gators had a beautiful link up play in the first half, when senior Jason Borges made the most of his chance. After play between Borges and junior Jairo Magana, Borges got the ball just inside the box with only the keeper to beat. He proceeded to easily chip the keeper for his first goal in conference play this season.
“We haven’t been scoring this season but it’s turning around,” Borges said. “It’s a little late but that’s the point of soccer, to keep playing and give it your best, who knows, we could keep winning and move up a few spots.”
The Otters turned it up in the second half, with more shots on Rodriguez’s goal, with a smart turn and shoot opportunity just outside the box by junior Saydou Kamara that slipped past Rodriguez for a well-placed goal.
Freshman Sam Merritt added to first half scoring when he cleaned up his own rebound and showed resiliency to still score.
In a game where all the scoring came in the first 45 minutes, the second half mostly consisted of the Gators coming close on a few counterattacks, but coming just short in their attempts, as the Otters played aggressively, hoping to knick a goal against the Gators high line.