Defense reigns supreme in 0-0 draw for men’s soccer

In a neck-and-neck grind it out contest that ended after a 20-minute overtime period, the SF State Gators tied the Sonoma State University Seawolves 0-0.

The game was a pivotal one for the Gators, who were looking to improve their conference record of 1-2 on the season. With a tie, the Gators were able to add another point to their conference standings.

The tie was important for the team, said head coach Matt Barnes, even though the team was looking for the win.

“I’m happy with how our guys came out and competed today,” Barnes said. “Sonoma State is one of the best teams in the North, and we’ll take the tie. We’re still undefeated at home, and we showed some grit today coming off a loss and tying a very good team.”

The Gators started a lot of first-time players in the game, namely goalkeeper Kevin Esquivel and center back Jake Nokes, who were both starting in their first-ever games for SF State.

Esquivel started for the Gators because regular starter Emmanuel Jimenez had to sit out the game due to a red card he received against Cal State Monterey Bay. Coach Barnes said Esquivel had an amazing performance on the day. Esquivel blocked all three shots on goal that came his way.

“It was like getting a big monkey off my back to finally come in and start,” Esquivel said. “I tried my best to keep my team in the game. The game was big and I just tried my best to stay focused.”

Esquivel had a key save during the overtime period, where he blocked a shot in the 106th minute. The shot was high, and Esquivel leaped in the air and punched the ball away with his left hand.

Esquivel said the team’s motto going into halftime was “no mistakes.” Freshman Jake Nokes, who played all 110 minutes of the match in his first start, said not making mistakes in overtime was key to the tie.

“(Barnes) told us that teams lose games in overtime by beating themselves,” Nokes said. “We made sure to play smart. Overall we had a great performance defensively and I felt I played really well.”

The Gators defense held the Seawolves to only one shot in the first half, continuing their strong trend of shut-down defense.

The Gators allowed 11 shots by the end of the game, with only three of them being on goal. Offensively, the Gators were only able to muster three shots on goal.

The biggest scoring chance for the Gators came in the 38th minute, when center back Max Talbert bicycle kicked a ball that bounced just over the top of the cross bar.

SF State returns to the pitch this Sunday to play Humboldt State University, where they will look to improve offensively and stay undefeated at home.

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