The SF State men’s soccer team improved its record Tuesday after taking out the Dominican University of California Penguins 2-1 at Cox Stadium.
The Gators began aggressively by taking shots, controlling the ball and dominating on defense.
After 23 minutes, junior forward Sam Merritt scored a Gator goal off an assist from freshman Adam Lenth. This is Merritt’s second goal of the season, after winning MVP honors at the Montana State University Billings Rimrock Classic over the weekend.
“The goal felt good,” Merritt said. “We’re turning over a new leaf this year.”
After the score, the Gators committed fouls that resulted in several yellow cards, two of which went to junior Cory Rodas, which got him kicked him out of the game.
Down one man, it became difficult for the team to handle the Penguins. Coach Matt Barnes said they could not execute their game plan as a result.
“When you’re playing with a man down for that long it’s tough to have a gameplan,” Barnes said. “So no, the game didn’t go exactly to plan.”
Heading into the half the Gators led 1-0, despite losing their momentum in the first part of the game.
At the beginning of the second half, the team made wholesale changes in substitutions after making none in the first.
It became clear that the Penguins were taking advantage of the Gators being down a player after they showed different looks to confuse the Gator defense.
However, with 10 minutes left in the game, the Penguins’ Martin Gonzales scored from five yards out off an assist from midfielder Lee LeVerrier.
But the Gators did not panic as the team regained its aggressive first half form. Senior Kevin Johnson nearly scored the game-winning goal, but missed with a wide right.
Finally, with two minutes left, sophomore James Aguirre scored the game-winning goal from six yards out off an assist from Merrit.
“It was relieving, it was bad that we were down a man but we kept fighting and it paid off,” Aguirre said. “We got that victory.”
With their latest win, the Gators equaled their win total from a year ago. The win is also the hottest start for the team since 2009.
The Gators’ next game is this Friday against Notre Dame De Namur University at Cox Stadium.