San Jose, Calif. – The San Jose State men’s soccer team extended its unbeaten streak to three games on Friday afternoon in defeating the Houston Baptist Huskies 3-1 in a Western Athletic Conference match on Spartan Soccer Field.
“I’m happy because we were nowhere near the level of where we can be and we still won,” head coach Simon Tobin said. “We were average all over the park, but when you get a good team together, you are going to win games where you’re not firing on all cylinders…that was the case for us today.”
Despite not playing up the Coach Tobin’s expectations, the Spartans (4-7-1, 2-1-1 WAC) out shot Houston Baptist 17-8, led by four shots from sophomore Uriel Ayala. Freshmen Ruben Want, Greg Harte and Carlos Valdovinos each attempted two.
“I knew we would create more chances then them, but that doesn’t mean you are going to win,” Coach Tobin said. “We have to be better in the final third and not give up soft goals on the other end. We gave them a couple of good glimpses today. Those need to be eliminated.”
San José State got on the board first on Johnathan Colunga’s first goal as a Spartan. In the 40th minute, Enrique Montano lofted a high pass from the left side for the 18 over the center of the Huskies defense. Colunga got it and fired to the top of the frame for a 1-0 Spartans lead.
“I expect Johnathan to score, but he doesn’t look for it as much as he should. As he evolves, I expect him to be a 10 goal-a-year midfielder. That’s what we’ll work toward over the next two years.”
The Spartans enjoyed the advantage for just over two and a half minutes. Houston Baptist’s Alex Baez played a long through ball to the Huskies (1-6-1, 0-3-0 WAC) leading-scorer Patrick Toh. Spartans’ keeper Felix Petermann raced off his line to cut down the angle on the oncoming Toh, but couldn’t stop the shot. It found the lower right corner at the 42:11 mark. The sides went to the half tied 1-1.
“You give up that goal a couple of minutes before the half, I think mentally and physically it really drains you,” Coach Tobin said. “When they came out after the half they were pepped up and feeling like they were right back in the match.
“With a team (like Houston Baptist) that’s struggling, you want to see if you can bury them early and not give them any hope. We managed to let them in the game, but I was pleased with the way we responded in the second half.”
At the 54-minute mark, the team and conference’s leading scorer, Rory Knibbs put San José State ahead for good. From the left side, Want drove to the top of the 18 and laid the ball off for Knibbs. The London, England native slotted his shot into the right corner of the goal for his fourth tally in the last three matches. With the goal, his eighth this season, he has equaled his 20-match output from last year in just 12 games. I, addition to Want, Colunga was given an assist on the score, his team-leading seventh of the campaign.
Arguably the play of the match for San José State came in the 75th minute. Houston Baptist’s Stefan Lamanna got loose with the ball behind the Spartans defense. He was going in alone for the tying goal, after juking Petermann inside the 18. Frankie Beauchamp came all the way back and made a goal-saving tackle at the post to preserve the one-goal advantage.
“They had a couple of good looks to square it up at 2-1,”said Tobin. “Frankie’s play was huge, probably one of the most important in the match for us.”
The Spartans left no doubt as to the outcome on Valdovinos’ first goal as a collegiate player. In the 90th minute, with the Huskies playing up to try to get the equalizer, Dylan West played the ball out from deep in the defensive end. It went right to Valdovinos at midfield. Houston Baptist’s keeper Kevin Suarez was charging on the pass, but Valdovinos popped it by him and tucked the ball into the open net for a 3-1 lead and result for the Spartans.
“Carlos gives us everything he has,” Tobin said. “He has a nice burst of pace and the goal will give him a bit more confidence. I’m really happy for him.
“After last weekend, I’ve started to see a bit of confidence in the team. They are focused to get to the conference tournament. If we’d played this way earlier in the year, we don’t win this game. The difference now is confidence.”
The Spartans return to the field on Sunday when they face the Incarnate Word Cardinals. Kickoff on Spartan Soccer Field is set for 3:00 p.m.
Houston Baptist (1-6-2, 0-3-0 WAC) vs. San Jose State (4-7-1, 2-1-1 WAC)
Date: Oct 17, 2014 Attendance: 175
Goals by period 1 2 Tot
Houston Baptist..... 1 0 - 1
San Jose State...... 1 2 - 3
2. 42:11 HBU(1) Toh, Patrick (5) (Baez, Alex) - long through ball beat oncoming keeper to right corner
Shots: Houston Baptist 8, San Jose State 17
Saves: Houston Baptist 7 (Suarez, Kevin 7), San Jose State 2
(Petermann, Felix 2)