Phoenix, Ariz. – The San Jose State men’s soccer team kept its hot play going as it traveled to Grand Canyon University and handed the Antelopes a 2-1 defeat on Friday night in Western Athletic Conference action.
The win keeps the Spartans (6-8-1, 4-2-1 WAC) in a tie with Seattle U for the No. 2 seed in the WAC Championship Tournament race, with 13 points. On Sunday, the team plays at UNLV, currently at the top of the table with 18 points, in what will be a critical match for potential seeding in the WAC Tournament, which starts Tuesday, November 13. The top two seeds receive a bye into the semifinals and would only have to win two games to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
“This was a pleasing victory for us because we knew this would be a difficult team to play, especially on the road,” head coach Simon Tobin said. “There was really no rhythm to the game and it was pretty ugly at times. I don’t think you would’ve cancelled your Halloween plans to come out and watch this one.”
Both San Jose State and Grand Canyon (4-10-2, 2-5-1 WAC) played a lackluster first half with the ‘Lopes holding a 3-2 advantage in shots and neither team able to test the others keeper.
Enrique Montano gave San José State its first lead at the 52:48 mark. Grand Canyon committed a foul, pulling striker Greg Harte down, just outside the 18 and a few feet to the right to the goal. Montano took the free kick, bent it over a six-man wall and inside the top corner for his first tally of the year.
“Enrique has been working on (free kicks) in practice and his shot was superbly placed,” Tobin said.
The lead was short lived. Just 73 second later the Spartans were whistled for a foul in the box giving the ‘Lopes a penalty kick. Niki Jackson took the PK and tucked it low inside the right post to draw Grand Canyon and SJSU level at 1-1 in the 55th minute.
In the 60th minute Harte scored his eighth goal of the year to put San José State back in front. Montano played a long ball over the ‘Lopes back four, which Harte ran onto and flicked over the oncoming keeper for a 2-1 lead.
“Greg really worked hard to get to that ball and paid the price by running into the post after he scored,” Tobin said. “
The game was nearly tied in the 89th minute GCU’s Alberto Sanchez Garcia picked up a loose ball inside the box and fired a shot over charging Spartans’ keeper Felix Petermann. Striker Rory Knibbs was on the spot to deflect the ball away from the open goal and saved what would have been the tying goal. Instead, San José State leaves the desert with three important points.
“We have three tough games ahead of us in the next week (at UNLV, vs. Seattle U and vs. Utah Valley), but two of them are at home,” Tobin said. “In each of our last six games we have been the better team. Our goal is to qualify for the conference tournament and go into it playing better than everyone else.”
In the last six games the Spartans are outscoring their opponents 13-5 and have not allowed more than in a single game that stretch. Petermann evened his record at 5-5-1 with two saves against GCU.
The Spartans kick off against the Rebels in Las Vegas, Nev., at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. Fans can follow the action through live stats or on the Spartan Digital Network at www.sjsuspartans.com
San Jose State (6-8-1, 4-2-1) vs. Grand Canyon (4-10-2, 2-5-1)
Date: Oct 31, 2014 Attendance: 122
Weather: 88 degrees
Goals by period 1 2 Tot
San Jose State...... 0 2 - 2
Grand Canyon........ 0 1 - 1
1. 52:48 SJSU Montano, Enrique (1) (unassisted) - Goal off of free kick from just outside the box
2. 54:01 GCU Jackson, Niki (4) Penalty kick
Shots: San Jose State 10, Grand Canyon 9
Saves: San Jose State 2 (Petermann, Felix 2), Grand Canyon 2
(Licciardi, Luca 2)