San Jose, Calif. - The San Jose State men's soccer team built a two goal lead in the first half, but allowed three unanswered scores in the second and lost its first Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) match of the season, 3-2 to the UNLV Rebels on Sunday afternoon in Spartan Stadium.
The loss leaves the Spartans record at 6-5-1, 3-1-1 in MPSF action, while UNLV improves to 5-9-1, 3-2-0 in conference play. Despite the loss, San Jose State remains in first place in the Pacific Division of the MPSF.
Emmanuel Espinosa, who finished the day with a career-high 10 saves, faced two hard shots in the first minute, which he turned away. Espinosa faced two more Rebel shots before the Spartans got on the board.
At the 34:17 mark, Steven Sanchez took a long throughball from Jonathan Salceda and drove down the right side. He turned the corner and from close in on the right wing beat UNLV keeper Joe Vitale to the far post. It was Sanchez's team-leading eighth goal of the season.
Just under eight minutes later, in the 43rd minute, Sanchez had a chance to pay Salceda back for his earlier assist. Driving with the ball, Sanchez made a quick touch to Salceda on the left wing. Salceda picked the ball up behind the defense and hammered it to the far post for his fourth goal of the season.
The sides went to the locker rooms with the Spartans leading 2-0.
In the second half, UNLV pushed forward and applied the pressure to the Spartans defense. In the 65th minute Jose Mendoza took a centering pass and tucked it inside the far post to cut the lead in half. At the 78:12 mark the Rebels Salvador Bernal tied the match.
Sanchez had a chance to put the Spartans back in front in the 84th minute when he picked up a loose ball in the UNLV box. He pulled the trigger from 11 yards out and in trying to lift the ball over Vitale, hit the crossbar.
Then in the 88th minute off a free kick from 40 yards out, Eddie Vega headed in what would be the game winner.
"This is such a game of inches," Sanchez said. "In the first half we were doing all the right things. In the second half, we just didn't do the little things to finish the game."San Jose State returns to action next Friday, October 19, at Denver. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.