After their first two conference games ended in disappointment, the third saw the men’s soccer team win in a tight 2-1 match against California State University, East Bay at Cox Stadium.
The first half started off aggressive when, within the first two minutes, the Pioneers had their first wide shot outside of sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Harmina’s goal post.
Referees called nine total fouls on the Gators and 12 for the Pioneers, which caused frustration to arise from both sides.
Sophomore attacking midfielder Richard Leon saw this first-hand, but didn’t let his emotions get the best of him and kept composure.
“I tried to keep my cool and talk with teammates,” Leon said. “The first couple games they influenced me to stay calm and look over my shoulders, check into the ball hard [and] get the ball and turn so that I can find my teammates.”
Senior forward Ranier Plantinos scored his eighth goal of the season when he caught the opponent goalkeeper off balance in the goal box. He tapped it in before the 22-minute mark and scored one for the Gators.
Just one shot after junior forward Carlos Trujeque leal hit the post, senior attacking midfielder Jonny Villeda shot another goal that passed the Pioneers’ goalkeeper making it 2-0 five minutes before the first half ended.
Villeda addressed the camaraderie on the field that helped him get his second goal of the season.
“As a team, I feel like we’ve been getting more used to playing with each other lately,” he said. “We had a few rough patches where we weren’t playing to our potential, but as time’s passed our chemistry has been a lot better; we’re more in tune with each other.”
At the end of the first half, both teams had seven shots each, but only SF State had scored, concluding the halftime score to be 2-0.
Returning keeper Harmina blocked two shots on goal in the first half out of the total three that CSUEB had in the game. However, he allowed one to slip by after an opposing forward deflected the ball.
The Pioneers’ goal was shot just under the 74 minute mark, bringing the score in the second half to a close 2-1.
At this point, the Gators needed to change their strategy a bit to be more aggressive and more defensive than they had been in the entire game, knowing their insurance goal was taken away.
“It was so late in the game it was all about keeping our lead and not letting them get any more chances,” Harmina said. “We get back when we can, we pinch, and we shut it down for them. We gave them a little bit of hope, but we couldn’t let them have any more than that.”
After that late goal by the opposing team, the Gators pushed hard and attempted three more shots; two of them on-goal shots. The Pioneers could not keep up with the SF State team, and received three fouls, one yellow card and sent only one missed shot.
The Gators’ smart playing and team effort resulted in a 2-1 victory over CSUEB. Their overall record is now 6-1-1.
SF State awaits their next weekend home game on Sunday, Oct. 1 against California State University, Monterey Bay.