SF State’s men’s soccer team fought its way to a gritty 1-0 victory over Holy Names University in its season opener at Cox Pavilion today.

The Gators took a step in the right direction after finishing last in its conference with an abysmal 3-14-1 record a year ago.

Sam Merritt, of SF State, keeps the ball in fair play as it almost rolls out of bounce during the soccer game at Cox Stadium at SF State University on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014.  Daniel Porter / Xpress

Sam Merritt, of SF State, keeps the ball in fair play as it almost rolls out of bounce during the soccer game at Cox Stadium at SF State on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. Daniel Porter / Xpress

“It felt great. It felt better than any other win I’ve ever gotten at this school”, said senior midfielder Kevin Johnson.

In the beginning, the Gators let the Hawks play around with the ball to get a feel of how they play.

The defense held up while the offense worked on getting itself together. According to first year head coach Matt Barnes, he expected more out of his offensive unit.

The Gators look to posses the ball a bit better and rely less on its defense in the next games. “We defended the ball way too much today,” said Barnes.

Although the first half ended at 0-0, the Gators were the aggressors after attempting 15 shot attempts and controlling the ball for the majority of the half.

The Gators went with a new approach in the second half by stretching the field on offense, and continuing to smother the Hawks on defense.

“We tried to press them up higher on the field,” Coach Barnes said. “I felt like we needed to step up and press them a bit more in the second half and cut their possession time down and we were able to do that.”

The relentless attack saw several missed opportunities to take the lead, but ultimately paid off after Johnson crushed a goal at the 55:48 minute mark.

Johnson took the shot knowing it was the perfect opportunity.

“First I was going to cross and I saw that the keeper was off his line so I decided to slot it near post and it went in,” Johnson said.

After the goal, the Gators momentum slowed down and the defense let up at the end leaving Holy Names Forward Jaime Phillips open for a goal that was saved by sophomore Goal Keeper Daniel Boyer.

“It saved the game. That’s what you ask from your goal keeper,” Barnes said. “We didn’t ask for a lot from him he didn’t have to make a lot of saves but he came up big at the end without that we don’t get the points out of this game.”

Aside from the close save, the Gator defense dominated the Hawks throughout the game, and took away any chance at a comeback.

“The team played very well we stuck to our strong defense and it got us a shut out proud about that,” Senior Defender Max Talbert said.

Overall Barnes would like to have his team cherish the feeling of winning.

“I want these guys addicted to that feeling of winning and working so hard and hating losing,” Barnes said. “That’s what I want them to take out of this it’s a great feeling to win your first game.”

The next game occurs Friday Sept. 12 against Colorado Mesa in Billings, Mont.

Mark Landis's attorney, Thanh Ngo, attempts to block his client from the cameras after his trial in courtroom Dept. 17 at the San Francisco Hall of Justive, Tuesday Sept. 9, 2014.
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