The Gators’ offense came alive to score a season-high of four goals as SF State thrashed the Stanislaus State Warriors 4-0 at Cox Stadium today.
Coming off a 1-1 week, the Gators approached the final two-game stretch needing a little help from other CCAA teams this weekend to guarantee a playoff berth. While five points ahead of the next outside-looking-in team, SF State has played two more games than some of the teams still in contention, such as Cal State Dominguez Hills and Cal State Monterey Bay.
This meant that the Gators needed a strong week of their own play to keep their points advantage. To get that strong, undefeated week, SF State needed to show a lot more offense than they’ve shown over the last weekend, scoring a combined two goals in two games.
“We weren’t quite as sharp, especially on (last) Friday’s match,” said SF State head coach Javier Ayala-Hil.
The Gators’ offense answered the call today.
The Gators put pressure on Stanislaus State right out of the gate when Sophomore forward Carlos Trujeque Leal fired a shot on goal. However, the shot went high and wide off the net.
Stanislaus State responded with a golden scoring chance of their own, when they stole the ball from SF State goalie Peter Swinkels, who had held on to it a little too long. The attempted shot was intercepted by the SF State defense, and the early scare ended.
The Gators and the Warriors continued to trade some quality scoring chances early on in the first half, but neither team was able to capitalize.
The Gators offensive pressure finally broke through when Junior defender Brandt Dixon’s header scored with 13 minutes left in the half. The shot was set up by a free kick from Senior midfielder Jorden Wusstig.
“We were controlling the game already,” Dixon said when asked about his goal. “What coach taught us to do is always cover the back post no matter what. So that’s what I did, I went in, covered the back post. It came right to me. I got up, so I headed it into the back of the net.”
As the half went on, the Gators defense settled down and the Warriors offense could not find the same great scoring chances they had earlier in the half.The Gators bombarded the Warriors with eight shots during the half, while their stingy defense only gave up two.
The Gators started the second half off by burying the Warriors into a bigger hole, scoring in the 53rd minute of the game.
Senior defender Aydan Bowers scored his fourth of the year in front of a messy scene at the Stanislaus State net.
Stanislaus State answered with a little offensive pressure, but could not find a good shot as the Gators defense continued to suffocate the Warriors’ scoring chances.
“I think they (SF State defense) have been consistent all year,” said Ayala-Hil. “(They are) tough to break down, they have a lot of resilience and they are all around great players.”
The Gators piled on another score with 13 minutes left in the game, crushing any comeback hopes the Warriors may have had, when Wustig scored his first goal of the season.
Senior defender and team captain Tariq Pulskamp scored yet another SF State goal, this time off a diving header in the 81st minute of the game. The goal would be the final of the game.
“We sometimes struggle scoring, and to get four goals at home, and we are about to play at home again. I think it’s very, very important,” said Bowers.
Winkels earned his 9th shutout of the season, with help from his defense.
The Gators will finish their stretch at Cox Stadium this Sunday, Oct. 21 for a regular season finale against Chico State, where a win is much needed to improve their playoff chances.