San Jose, Calif. - The San Jose State University men's soccer team rallied from a 1-0 second-half deficit and used a 70th-minute header from senior co-captain Nick Cukar to post a 2-1 victory over Sacramento State in its 2009 non-conference finale at Spartan Stadium on Thursday night, October 8.
The match marked a rare non-conference meeting between Mountain Pacific Sports Federation and area rivals. San Jose State extended its win streak to three matches and unbeaten run to four, both season longs, in improving to 5-6-1 overall heading into the league slate. The team also maintains its unbeaten record at home this season, now at 3-0-1, with an eight-game run without a loss in San Jose since late in the 2008 campaign. The Spartans are 10-1-3 at home over the past two years. Sacramento State falls to 4-5-1 with its fifth loss in six games.
Cukar put a glancing header at 69:43 from the middle of the penalty area into the far corner off a corner kick from the left side by junior teammate Ricky Dorrego, a San Jose native out of Lincoln High School. It was Cukar's team-leading fourth goal of 2009, and 11th career game-winner. Dorrego's assist was his third, all coming on corner kicks. The Spartans improve to 15-1-1 all-time when Cukar finds the back of the opposing net.
A battle of attrition over the first 45 minutes was followed by an entertaining and fast-paced second half. Sacramento State jumped on top at 51:30 on a solo effort by junior midfielder Ernesto Carranza, who dribbled at least 10 or 15 yards up the field toward the right flank, pulled the ball back near the top of the penalty area, and unleashed a left-footed shot that Spartan goalie Jonathan Lester got his right hand to, but couldn't keep out of the lower left corner.
The Spartans answered right back less than two minutes later as senior striker Colby Moore was under-cut in the Sacramento State box while pursuing an Oscar Yniguez long ball, with a penalty kick being awarded by the match official. In the absence of Oscar Monjaras, the Spartans' normal kick-taker, Yniguez stepped up and put his shot into the left-side netting. Bryan Oliver, like Lester on the Hornet goal just moments before, got his hand to it, but was unable to parry the shot away. It was the third goal of the year for the sophomore midfielder from Redwood City, all coming in dead-ball situations, with two previous free-kick strikes.
Lester, a sophomore, wound up with four saves over the 90 minutes for San Jose State. Yniguez had a game- and career-high four shots off the bench.
Oliver, a sophomore making his first appearance of 2009, made a pair of stops in the Hornet net. Carranza and junior playmaker Fernando Cabadas had three shots apiece. Carranza's goal was his second on the year. He also had the Hornets' best chance to equalize, heading point-blank from in front of the net off a right-sided cross from senior midfielder Scott Crandall in the 77th minute, but bouncing it off the ground and right into the arms of Lester for the save.
Monjaras, like Cukar a senior co-captain, was unavailable for the Spartans due to injury, with Nick Carrara, a true freshman out of Redwood City, making just his third collegiate start in his place at center back. In fact, the Spartans started three freshmen and a redshirt sophomore along the back, with all four players staying on the field for the full 90 minutes. Carrara was joined at center back by Nick Murphy, with Dan Addiego at right back and Mauricio Murillo, Jr., on the left.
The first half featured little action offensively, but the kind of physicality expected in games between the two teams, as they combined for 18 fouls and just nine shots. The first attempt by either side came in the 11th minute off a Dorrego free kick from the right side that Carrara headed in the middle of the penalty area for Oliver to save.
Sacramento State was credited with its first shot nearly six and a half minutes later. Cabadas was open toward the top of the penalty area, but mis-hit the ball, meekly sending it wide to the left of the target. The Hornets' leading scorer, freshman Max Alvarez, ran onto the ball and got enough of a touch to knock it toward goal, where the on-rushing Lester saved it, the ball deflecting back off of Alvarez and into the net. The assistant referee's flag was up, however, for offsides, and the match remained scoreless.
The Spartans produced a good combination play by in the 38th minute, as an Yniguez cross from the left found the foot of junior midfielder Josh Boemecke, whose shot was blocked. The first half ended in somewhat bizarre fashion. Steven Sanchez threaded a ball down the right wing to Robert Jackson, who crossed into the box for freshman striker Dylan Murphy to tap into the goal. The score was disallowed due to offsides, but the play resulted in a free kick for the Spartans as the referee reverted back to an earlier Hornet foul. Jackson's effort with the final seconds ticking away went just wide to the left.
Sacramento State out-shot San Jose State on the night, 14-13.
The Spartans continue a season-long three-game homestand with their 2009 MPSF opener next Friday night, October 16, hosting defending league champion Denver University. Kick-off inside Spartan Stadium is set for 7:00 p.m.
Sacramento State (4-5-1) - 0 1 - 1
San Jose State (5-6-1) - 0 2 - 2
SAC - Ernesto Carranza (2) (unassisted), 51:30
SJSU - Oscar Yniguez (3) (Penalty kick), 53:12
SJSU - Nick Cukar (4) (Ricky Dorrego), 69:43
SAC - 14
SJSU - 14
SAC - 2 (Bryan Oliver-2)
SJSU - 4 (Jonathan Lester-4)
SAC - 2
SJSU - 3
SAC - 13
SJSU - 20