Gator men's soccer suffers penalty shootout loss against University of Missouri-St. Louis

The SF State men’s soccer team outplayed University of Missouri-St. Louisfor most of the game but fell short during penalty kicks (4-2) of the title game at the Cal State East Bay Fall Classic.

SFSU mens soccer
Gators Antonio Ugarte kicks a penalty shot during their game against the Missouri-St. Louis Tritons on Saturday in Hayward. The Gators lost 4-2 in penalty kicks after neither team was able to take the lead during regular game play. Photo by Elijah Nouvelage.

The Gators came out and dominated the first half of the match, setting the game’s tempo with precise passes and quickness off the ball. Midfielders seamlessly dribbled around UMSL players, creating shots every five minutes of the first half.

In the first 45 minutes SF State had 9 attempted shots, 5 of which were on target, but UMSL goalkeeper Tim Boruff denied the Gators.

The second half was evenly matched as both teams threw their best punches.

The Gators looked hungry to score the first goal in the second half, which often led them to hurried passes and off-target shots.

Gator’s midfielder Edgar Villagrana, junior, knows his team’s offensive tempo dropped in the second half.

“We kind of lost our heads at the beginning (of the second half). We were a little desperate of getting the first goal that we didn’t think about keeping the ball like we did in the first half,” Villagrana said. “That’s the main thing that affected us.”

Both teams were at a 0-0 lock even after the two 10-minute overtime halves. This lead to a penalty shootout where SF State’s Antonio Ugarte and Luis Mendoza failed to convert their kicks.

SF State goalkeeper Mike McNeill was forced to exit the game early in the second half with a knee injury after colliding with a UMSL player.

“I went up for the ball… and as I landed, my knee was straight when the (UMSL player) landed on my back. It felt like my knee just buckled,” McNeill said. “We’re gonna get an MRI tomorrow, but it looks like there’s nothing torn and like it’s just a hyperextension right now.”

Gator’s head coach Joe Hunter knows his team had the upper hand most of the game, but said he saw plenty of improvements from their previous match.

“(We) probably should’ve finished this game in the first ninety (minutes), but like I said, you give credit to Missouri-St. Louis. They preserved and kept themselves organized,” Hunter said.

“But I like that I saw improvement from our first game against Dominican to this one, and that’s what were looking for,” he added. “We just have to get fitter so that our quickness, our speed and our strength could have taken over this game.”

Villagrana, although disappointed, looked eager to work on improving offensively and for the Gator’s conference opener against the Cal State Monterey Bay Otters.

“We need to work on our finishing, mainly. We need to work on the runs from the wings… but finishing is our main priority right now,” he said.

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Gator men's soccer suffers penalty shootout loss against University of Missouri-St. Louis