San Jose, Calif. - The San Jose State University men's soccer team got a pair of first-half, dead-ball goals from its Oscar tandem, Yniguez and Monjaras, to overturn an early 1-0 deficit and go on to a 4-1 triumph over UC Davis in the 2009 season opener for both teams at Spartan Stadium on Tuesday night, September 1.
UC Davis, ranked No. 24 in the SoccerTimes.com College Coaches Preseason Poll, had earned at-large berths into each of the past two NCAA Division I Championship tournaments since reclassifying up from Division II, and was coming off a 13-win season. San Jose State out-played the Aggies for large portions of the game, however, after a bit of a sluggish start, extending its overall win streak to five matches and unbeaten run to seven dating back to the close of the 2008 campaign.
Four players in the starting lineup were making their Spartan debuts, in defenders Nick Murphy and Mauricio Murillo, Jr., goalkeeper Jonathan Lester and midfielder Nik Allen, forced into action as a result of an injury that kept fifth-year senior holding central midfielder Brian McGuire out.
Though neither team formulated much of an offensive threat through the first third of the opening period, UC Davis initially looked the tougher side. The first shot, and in fact the only attempt on goal ahead of any scoring, was San Jose State senior striker Colby Moore's fifth-minute effort from the right diagonal that actually looked like it was probably intended to be a cross, but would have been on target had junior Aggie goalie Ryan McCowan not caught it.
At 17:59, senior forward Chris Leer eluded a pair of Spartan defenders toward the right goal line, turned in and provided a pass on the ground toward the penalty area that freshman teammate John Joslin drilled into the back of the night to the left of a sprawling Lester.
San Jose State eventually began to make its speed and skill felt, and was rewarded in the 34th minute when Nick Cukar was fouled just outside the penalty circle while attempting to latch onto a deep ball in the air from the right flank by freshman teammate Steven Sanchez, who had replaced fellow San Jose native Ricky Dorrego on that wing just seven minutes prior.
Sanchez lined up opposite sophomore Oscar Yniguez around the ball, but it was ultimately Yniguez who stepped up and struck a left-footed line-drive that went into the lower right corner of the goal. McCowan hardly moved.
Less than seven minutes later, it was Cukar using his shiftiness to gain another scoring opportunity, as this time he was dragged inside the UCD 18-yard box, and the match referee pointed to the penalty spot. Senior co-captain Oscar Monjaras, a defender, calmly snuck his low shot inside the right post as well, for his first collegiate goal, to give the Spartans a 2-1 edge.
In between, Yniguez smoked a left-foot attempt from the right diagonal which looked like it could be headed toward the opposite corner, only to be blocked away by an Aggie defender. The Spartans took the 2-1 score advantage into the locker room at halftime.
Having helped create San Jose State's first two scores, Cukar, the other co-captain alongside Monjaras, took matters into his own hands to provide his team some cushion. As the 61st minute approached, he pressured a long-ball attempt by Aggie junior Chris Beville. Beville's kick smacked off of Cukar right around the center line and bounded toward the opposing goal. Cukar was first to it about 10 yards later, drove it another 25 yards or so, and coolly slotted a shot on the ground to the left of a charging McCowan and again into the right corner of the net.
In the 68th minute, a UC Davis goal was disallowed due to a foul called inside the penalty area.
The Spartans finally put the result out of doubt at 87:37 on a beautifully-worked score. San Jose State earned a corner kick, taken by Dorrego on the left side, with the ball reaching the head of Josh Boemecke, himself a junior midfielder, at the back post. The Illinois product nodded the ball back across the mouth of goal, with Castro in the vicinity to head it home for his first collegiate strike.
Lester played all 90 minutes in goal and had four saves for the Spartans. San Jose State out-shot UCD, 14-8, with Dorrego providing a team-high three.
McCowan made one stop for the Aggies before giving way to Matt Provencher (two saves) for the final 18-plus minutes. Rene Cuellar had a game-high four shots, three of them on goal.
Provencher's first stop came as his first touch of the night just moments upon entering the game, as Dorrego put a well-struck ball in that Mauricio Murillo, Jr., put a glancing header on toward the near post, forcing the difficult reaction save from the freshman Santa Clara native.
The Spartans now take off on a season-long four-game road stretch, beginning with a trip to Corvallis, Ore., this Thursday, September 3, for the OSU/Nike Challenge. San Jose State will face host Oregon State in its 2009 debut on Friday evening, September 4, at 5:30 p.m.
No. 24 UC Davis (0-1) - 1 0 - 1
San Jose State (1-0) - 2 2 - 4
UCD - John Joslin (1) (Chris Leer), 17:59
SJSU - Oscar Yniguez (1) (unassisted), 33:56
SJSU - Oscar Monjaras (1) (penalty kick), 40:33
SJSU - Nick Cukar (1) (unassisted), 60:19
SJSU - Justin Castro (1) (Josh Boemecke, Ricky Dorrego), 87:37
UCD - 8
SJSU - 14
UCD - 3 (Ryan McCowan-1; Matt Provencher-2)
SJSU - 4 (Jonathan Lester-4)
UCD - 3
SJSU - 3
UCD - 25
SJSU - 15