Stellar defensive efforts on both sides Friday night at Cox Stadium led to a 0-0 draw between SF State and No. 8 nationally ranked Cal State LA.
After suffering their first two losses of the season last week, the Gators ended their streak in a physical, defensive battle. The Gators were just a couple missed shots away from beating the No. 8 ranked team in the Division II of NCAA.
“We were coming off of a tough weekend last week, but every game we go into with the same mentality,” said Senior central defender Tariq Pulskamp.
“We like to focus on ourselves as much as we can.”
Many players were hurt or on the ground during this gruelling grind-fest that went scoreless for the entirety of regulation and both overtimes.
Most of the the first half was spent on SF State’s side of the field, as the Gators did not have much of an answer for Cal State LA’s pressure and positioning. The Gators were outshot 7-3 in the first half.
The Golden Eagles seemed quicker to the ball and were always positioned around it.
SF State sophomore goalkeeper Peter Swinkels was key to keeping the Gators in the game. Swinkels got busy with four saves in the first half and continued his sound goaltending in the second half, getting another four saves during the rest of the game.
“When you’re playing a good team like Cal State LA, it’s always going to be important to be strong defensively,” Swinkels said.
“I think the communication was really good, everybody was on the same page,” Swinkels added about what stood out from the Gators defense.
Swinkels got his fifth shutout of the season against a Cal State LA team that exploded for five goals against Cal State Dominguez Hills last Wednesday.
“I felt that we were organized, we did our job defensively,” said SF State head coach Javier Ayala-Hil.
After the first half, the Gators came alive and traded possession of the ball. SF State was able to generate some late scoring chances, as did Cal State LA, but neither squad could capitalize and put the game away.
“Honestly, I think we had some chances early on we couldn’t put away, and it resulted in a 0-0 tie,” Ayala-Hil said.
“I think we are kind of missing that killer instinct in front of (opposing) goal (post),” Swinkels said.
Even with the draw, shutting out a top 10 team in the country makes this week more successful than the last one.
After this match against the Golden Eagles, the Gators will have only Saturday to prepare to host Cal State Dominguez Hills.
“We are used to Friday-Sunday conference schedule, that’s a typical weekend for us,” Pulskamp said when asked about playing another game this Sunday.
This Sunday, the Gators will look to find their scoring touch and get back in the win column in their game against the CSUDH Toros.