The San Francisco State University men’s soccer team won its fourth home game against Cal State San Bernardino, shooting up two spots on the California Collegiate Athletic Association standings.
With only having three games left in the regular season, the Gators needed this 4-2 win in order to advance further up in the ladder. Now at the seventh spot, landing the sixth spot guarantees them to be in the CCAA tournament.
The game started 35 minutes late, but that didn’t stop SF State from coming in head strong in offense.
Just under the 7-minute mark, sophomore attacking mid Richard Leon scored his sixth goal of the season for the Gators after senior forward Ranier Plantinos weaved through the Coyote’s defense passing it to Leon. The two worked together like it was an easy layup on the basketball court.
The Gators took two shots on goal, only to have the Coyote’s goalkeeper save them. Leon’s goal would be their only goal of the first half.
Freshman goalkeeper Peter Swinkels had a tough time covering the goal for a swift moment when the opponents found his blind spot and scored at within 24 minutes of the half.
Though San Bernardino scored, tying the game at 1-1, the freshman goalkeeper knew that since the season is about to end, he needed to help his team leave the year with power.
“When I first came in here, I knew every game was going to be a battle, every team could beat any team on any given day,” Swinkles said. “These two back-to-back games over the weekend are challenging, but we’ve gotten through and we’re looking to finish the season strong.”
With that in mind, Swinkels punched a close shot by the Coyote’s midfielder, saving an anticipated goal and ending the half tied 1-1.
The Gators took a breather for 15 minutes during the half to clear their heads so that when the second half started, they knew to get back on track against a team higher than them in the CCAA standings.
Only two and a half minutes into the second half and the Gators received a penalty shot. Junior defender Tariq Pulskamp kicked his shot high and to the right, giving him his fourth goal of the season.
A little under three minutes go by and Gator of the Week Plantinos headered his 10th goal of the season after a throw-in assist on the left side by junior mid-defender Ayden Bowers. At the fifty-minute mark, the Gators lead 3-1.
Plantinos made it clear that both he and the team know the stakes of coming into this game after just losing their first home game on Friday.
“After the last game with Pomona we realized that everyone is mature enough to know that we have to win this game for sure,” said Plantinos. “Our mentality is to ‘must win.’ They put us to the corner, but we succeeded.”
At this point, the Gators pushed their team to play as much defense as they could. They extended their lead and wanted to keep it, even with an insurance goal in their hands.
After Plantinos was substituted at the 66-minute mark, he came back in head-strong with less than 15 minutes left of playing time.
Plantinos then headed his second goal of the game and his 11th of the season after junior midfielder Brandon Brunac lobbed a short pass from inside the box.
When asked how he felt about successfully attempting two headers in one game, Plantinos said, “It’s fantastic! It’s what I’ve been waiting for. I’ve been not scoring for three goals, then bringing two in the right moment, I feel great.”
The Gators gave the Coyotes a run for their money and blocked their next shot on goal. However, the last on-goal shot of the game was shot just a bit after three minutes was left in the game by San Bernardino which gave them another notch on the scoreboard.
The Gators were unphased, playing on the defensive and wasting time whenever they had possession.
The match ended with the Gators winning 4-2 against the aggressive CSUSB Coyotes.
Usually playing on the wing, junior right defender Sam Gebremiche found himself frustrated and slapping the ball out of his opponents hands in between plays. Although his irritation was at the forefront of his mind at some moments during the game, Gebremiche recognized that this team was ahead of them in wins and was happy with how the day turned out.
“They were hustling. They were never giving up, always after us,” he said. “Playoffs are around the corner. Today was a day that everyone has to come together, keep it cool, just play our game and everything falls together. Everybody is happy.”
As of now, the Gators’ conference record is 4-4-2 with their second-to-last game being played at Cox Stadium on Wednesday, October 25.