San Jose, Calif. – The San José State men’s soccer team went down a goal in the first half of its game against the Air Force Falcons, but battled back and earned a 1-1 draw and critical point in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) standings on Sunday afternoon on Spartan Soccer Field.
“The important thing about today was that we came away with a point and maintained our advantage in the standings over (Air Force) and our overall place in the table,” head coach Simon Tobin said. “We didn’t want to give back the three points we earned on Friday.”
With six teams qualifying for the WAC Tournament, Sunday’s draw means SJSU maintains its three-point advantage over Air Force for, at this point, and is tied with Houston Baptist for fifth place in the conference standings.
The game was back and forth throughout and a real test of fitness. The Spartans, who outshot Air Force 7-to-6 in the first 45 minutes, had, in the 24th minute, the first chance to get on the board.
Charging in on the right side, Kyler McLaughlin took a service at the back post and headed it toward the left side of the goal. The attempt was just wide of the post. But Rory Knibbs, who was crashing the left side of the box, made a stab at the ball and came away an inch from tucking it in behind the keeper.
Just over 13 minutes later, Air Force’s Abinadi Samayoa laid the ball off to Austin Dewing on the right side. Dewing drove deep into the box and from 12 yards out fired a shot low to the far post. It was the first goal of the game, came at the 37:56 mark, and was Dewing’s first of the season. The teams went to the half with the Falcon’s leading 1-0.
Coming out of the intermission, the Spartans (5-9-1, 3-3-1 WAC) upped the intensity and were rewarded on their first shot of the half. Jonathan Colunga collected a ball in the midfield and feed Knibbs on the left side. Knibbs, the team’s leading scorer, did what he does best…found the back of the net. He drove deep into the box and slotted a shot just inside the far post for his ninth goals of the season and a 1-1 game.
The teams continued to trade runs up and down the field for the next 30 minutes. The Spartans had a golden opportunity to score in the 83rd minute.
Knibbs hammered another shot from the left side on which Falcons’ keeper John Wendt made a diving save. He was unable to corral the ball and it leaked to Carlos Valdovinos who had snuck in alone at the back post. Valdovinos placed his shot just inside the post, but Wendt’s desperation dive at the ball saved what would have been the go-ahead goal.
The Spartans peppered the Air Force (5-8-1, 2-4-1 WAC) goal throughout the second half, putting four or their eight shots on frame, but were unable to get more than the single tally. Air Force took three shots in the period with none reaching keeper Felix Petermann’s line.
On three occasions in regulation, Petermann parried shots over the crossbar, which would have increased the Air Force lead or put them back into the lead after the Spartans had drawn even.
Air Force outshot SJSU 5-to-3 in two 10-minute overtime periods. Of the eight shots between the sides just one was on frame. It belonged to the Spartans and was turned away by Wendt.
“(Air Force) is such a tough team to play,” senior defender Mikhail Wingate-Pearse said after the match. “They are so fit and just keep coming at you. To play 110 minutes against them is really difficult.”
SJSU outshot Air Force 18-to-14 and had a significant 10-to-4 advantage in shots on goal. All the Falcons’ shots on frame came in the first 45 minutes.
Knibbs led the attack with six shots, four on goal and a goal. Colunga took three, put two on frame and assisted on the Knibbs goal. McLaughlin,Alex Alcaraz and Victor Parra each attempted two shots. Luis Vargas, Uriel Ayala and Eric Mendez each produced a single attempt.
Air Force got three shots each from Trey Pujats and Dewing.
The Keepers made a combined 12 saves. Wendt stopped nine shots and Petermann three.
The Spartans begin next week in a tie for fifth place with Houston Baptist. Both teams have 10 points and meet in Houston on Sunday in a match that has Tournament implications.
2015 San Jose State Men's Soccer
Air Force vs San Jose State (Oct 25, 2015 at San Jose, Calif.)
Air Force (5-8-1, 2-4-1 WAC) vs. San Jose State (5-9-1, 3-3-1 WAC)
Date: Oct 25, 2015 Attendance: 352
Goals by period 1 2 OT O2 Tot
Air Force........... 1 0 0 0 - 1
San Jose State...... 0 1 0 0 - 1
- 37:56 AF Dewing, Austin (1) (Samayoa, Abinadi) - 10 layed off to 12 on right side shot low to far post from 12 yards
- 50:54 SJSU Knibbs, Rory (9) (Colunga, Jonathan) - 10 pick up ball in midfield feeds 6 on left side shot to far post
Shots: Air Force 14, San Jose State 18
Saves: Air Force 9 (Wendt, John 9), San Jose State 3 (Petermann, Felix 3)