Half way there: Men’s soccer midseason review

SF State Gator forward Cameron DeJong, # 16, volleys the ball out of the air away from advancing Cal State East Bay players, Kellen Crow, #15, and Arthur Ethel, #3, at Cox Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. Sara Gobets / Xpress.

SF State Gator forward Cameron DeJong, # 16, volleys the ball out of the air away from advancing Cal State East Bay players, Kellen Crow, #15, and Arthur Ethel, #3, at Cox Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. Sara Gobets / Xpress.

SF State men’s soccer team had the best start to a season in 34 years, but the team is going in the wrong direction after four straight losses.

Their overall success this year can be attributed to new head coach Matt Barnes, who has his team poised and ready to compete every night. Barnes is fiery when needed and is known by players to inspire them when they need to pull out close games.

“For us to come in and do something that hasn’t happened in 34 years, I’m really proud about that but it doesn’t help us win any matches,” Barnes said. “So we talked about it a little bit but we have some work to do to get better.”

The team’s formula for success this season is their primary focus on defense, according to Barnes. By defending well, the Gators create more scoring opportunities and outlast opponents in the second half.

“We try and defend first this year as games loosen up and our fitness is high,” said Barnes. “I think what you see so much in the second half isn’t really a tactical adjustment, it is just our guys having consistent energy throughout 90 minutes and even into overtime.”

The problem with the Gators is their lack of a quality scorer who can put up points when the opportunity presents itself. The team would be undefeated if someone could finish consistently, Barnes said.

“We have a great team,” captain Kevin Johnson said. “We have subs out here that can come in and kill the game for us. It’s just great to have a nice team like that.”

The team is strongest at home, going undefeated after six games and only tying twice. However, the team is different on the road, where it struggles from injuries to the Gator’s backline, specifically Senior Hayden Roberts.

“The injury bug bit us a little bit, (and) we think Hayden may be out for the weekend,” Barnes said before the team’s 0-2 finish in Los Angeles. “That’s a big loss for us. He’s been tremendous in the middle of the park and on the backline when he plays there.”

The team is hoping to get back to their winning ways as they return home this week.

“It doesn’t stop here, we got to keep going,” said freshman Adam Lenth. “Hopefully we end up in the playoffs this year.”

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