The gators poured on the pressure in the second half to beat the visiting Cal State East Bay Pioneers 2-1 on Sunday afternoon — capping off a perfect weekend on their home field.
The win improves the Gators (8-3/5-2 CCAA) to 3-1 at home, firmly in the playoff picture as the final few regular-season games approach, marking the sixth consecutive win over East Bay, dating back to the 2014 season.
Benefiting from a free kick in the 11th minute, the last place Pioneers got on the board with a header in the near post from Tommy Flora.
That would be the only shot on goal that got behind SF State goalie Peter Swinkel as he closed out the day with two saves on three shots on goal.
Despite the low volume of shots, the winless Pioneers went into the half with a 1-0 lead.
“We all grouped together at half, our captains did a great job motivating us,” said freshman center forward London Lombana. “We knew we were coming out of this game with the win.”
The Gators came out of the intermission with intense force on the offensive side of the pitch, putting up a season-high 15 shots. Ten of those shots came in the final 45 minutes.
Finally breaking through in the 63rd minute was midfielder Crinan Dunbar who cleaned up a blocked shot on goal with an emphatic attempt of his own from outside the box. The equalizer was Dunbar’s first score on the year.
The Pioneers continued to bend but not break as the game looked destined for overtime leading into the final minute of regulation.
Lombana had other plans as he received a cross from teammate Julio Ponce Gonzales and finished off the score with a header in the near post for his third goal of the season.
“He is one of the best finishers on our team,” said Coach Pedro Osorio. “If he gets the ball on his head, foot or chest inside the box it’s going in.”
The Gators will ride this momentum into a difficult four-game stretch that will pit them against three teams leading in the standings.
The Gators hit the road to face Cal State San Bernardino on Friday, Oct. 25 at 3 p.m.