PHOTOS: SF State men's soccer suffers 2-0 loss against Cal State San Bernardino after key player's injury

Cal State San Bernardino Coyotes
Cal State San Bernardino's Martin Esqueda (7), right, and SF State Gators' Luis Fidel Medina (7), center, tussle for control of the ball during the soccer game at Cox Stadium in San Francisco Friday, Sept. 21, 2012. The Gators lost the game 2-0. Photo by Godofredo Vasquez / Xpress

The Gators are still on their quest to win their first CCAA game, after a 2-0 loss against the visiting Cal State San Bernardino Coyotes.

The loss wasn’t the only negative note for the Gators, with senior Jose Vitela going down with what looked like a knee injury early in the first half.

“I really rely on him (Vitela),” said captain Edgar Villagrana. “Now we have another one of our captains that went down. I was praying I wouldn’t get injured, too.”

According to Villagrana the midfield play was rough, with both sides getting a player sent off.

Cal State San Bernardino Coyotes
SF State Gators' Jose Vitela (16), center, walks back to the bench after getting injured during the soccer game against Cal State San Bernardino at Cox Stadium in San Francisco Friday, Sept. 21, 2012. The Gators lost the game 2-0. Photo by Godofredo Vasquez / Xpress

The game was a string of missed opportunities for the Gators. Although they held most of the possession, they couldn’t make it amount to much by not being able to capitalize on their shots or on any of their five corner kicks.

“Soccer is a game where you look at all the stats and you have more shots, and then you lose 2-0,” said head coach Joe Hunter. “You go ‘What the hell just happened?’ I’m not mad at my players. We’re just in a rough patch; they worked hard today and battled.”

However, it was the Coyotes who struck first, with junior Lee Nishanian crossing to Coyote’s freshman Ricardo Velasco who tapped in from close range.

The Gators’ best shot on goal came from a header that just missed the frame from freshman Sam Merritt.

“The center back that was defending me was really tall, so I couldn’t see the ball as well, so I just mishit it,” said Merritt. “That was probably my best chance.”

The Coyotes were playing defensively the whole match, sitting deep and hoping to catch the Gators on a counter-attack.

San Bernardino caught the Gators off guard when a gut-wrenching free kick from the Coyote’s Marin Esqueda snuck in from the far post on a curling ball that caught the Gator’s defense off guard.

“Once that second goal went in, we dropped our heads a bit, and right now it’s an accumulation of things. We’re just a little unlucky, and the only way you’ll get lucky is by keep working at it,” Hunter said.