San Antonio, Texas – The San José State men’s soccer team had been shut out on the road in its previous five matches of 2015. But on Sunday, a Rory Knibbs goal in the ninth minute sparked the Spartans to a 2-1 victory in its Western Athletic Conference (WAC) opener against the University of Incarnate Word Cardinals.
“Rory’s goal was very special,” head coach Simon Tobin said. “He weaved his way between what must have been three or four defenders on a long run up the field and finished it with a strong strike. It’s definitely the goal of the year and one of the best I’ve seen.”
The goal came on the team’s first shot of the match and is his fifth goal of the season. It ended a team road-scoreless streak at 458:20 and sparked the side’s offense and defense. SJSU produced a season-high nine shots and defensively challenged every Incarnate Word pass and possession.
“I have been pleased with the way we have been playing, but we have got to get to the level where the players are self-starters,” Tobin said. “Their demeanor on the field seems to mimic mine on the sideline. In general, I’m pretty low key, but I’ve been a bit more animated lately and they boys have responded with more aggressive play.”
San José State (3-6-0, 1-0-0 WAC) got its second goal of the half, and what would turn out to be the game winner, on a Knibbs penalty kick at the 40:06 mark. It’s his second PK of the year, team-leading sixth goal of the season and his third game-winner in 2015.
Each team attempted nine shots in the first half, with SJSU finishing the game with a 15-to-13 advantage in total shots. Spartans keeper Emmanuel Espinoza turned away all four of the shots, which reached his line in the first 45 minutes and had a game-best six saves when the final whistle blew.
In the second half, with SJSU leading 2-0, Cardinals’ midfielder and the leading scorer in the league, Noah Keats recorded his eighth goal of the season. It cut the San José State lead in half with 30 minutes left in regulation.
Incarnate Word (5-3-0, 1-1-0 WAC) was inspired by the score, but SJSU did an admirable job of controlling possession and ran out the clock for the 2-1 win.
“I’ve told the team all year that we’ll play two seasons,” Tobin said. “Our non-conference schedule was deliberately tough and I think we responded well in all but one game. Could we have won a couple of those games? Probably, but I expect us to be ready to win every one of our conference matchups and this is a good start for a young team.”
Knibbs scored his two goals on three shots. Jonathan Colunga led the team with five attempts, two of which were on frame. Eric Mendez, Alex Alcaraz and Andrew Mendoza each produced two shots and Scott Buskey took one. Mendoza, Alcaraz and Buskey each put a shot on goal.
Ben Conway led Incarnate Word with four shots and keeper Kieran O’Boyle made five saves.
The Spartan next two matches are on Spartan Soccer Field, where they are undefeated this year. San José State hosts conference foes, UNLV on Friday, October 9, at 3:00 p.m. and Grand Canyon University on Sunday, October 11, at 1:00 p.m.
Soccer Game Summary (Final)
2015 San Jose State Men's Soccer
San Jose State vs Incarnate Word (Oct 04, 2015 at San Antonio, Texas)
San Jose State (3-6-0, 1-0-0) vs. Incarnate Word (5-3-0, 1-1-0)
Date: Oct 04, 2015 Attendance: 143
Weather: Sunny, 83 degrees
Goals by period 1 2 Tot
San Jose State...... 2 0 - 2
Incarnate Word...... 0 1 - 1
- 8:26 SJSU Knibbs, Rory (5) (unassisted) - Long run past two defenders, finished to near post from 12 yards
- 40:06 SJSU Knibbs, Rory (6) Penalty kick
- 60:29 UIW Keats, Noah (8) (Kelly, Dylan) - pass from Dylan Kelly, Keats finished with left foot from 15 yards
Shots: San Jose State 15, Incarnate Word 13
Saves: San Jose State 6 (Espinoza, Emmanuel 6), Incarnate Word 5 (O'Boyle, Kieran 5)