San Jose, Calif. – El Shaddai Bent scored his first career goal at the 98:21 mark in overtime to give the San Jose State men’s soccer team a crucial 1-0 victory over Air Force on Sunday afternoon in Spartan Stadium.
A sloppy contest in which a combined 45 fouls were called led to two scoreless halves, and it looked like the match would go into a second overtime before Julio Gonzalez flipped the ball over the top to the foot of Bent, who beat his man and ultimately Falcon goalkeeper Brian Guyette to decide the contest. Hiroki Akiyama was also credited with an assist on the play.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” said the soft spoken Bent. “Julio flicked the ball up field towards where I was headed, and I made a turn on my defender. I saw the goalkeeper was off of his line, and I just made the shot.”
MANN ENTERS EXCLUSIVE COMPANY
The Spartan defense held the Falcons in check all afternoon long, as the Falcons were able to muster just three shots on goal. Richard Mann earned his fourth shutout of the season, equaling his total from a year ago. He moves into a tie for ninth place on the school’s all-time shutouts list.
“Today was all about our defense,” said Mann. The defenders in front of me were solid all day long. I don’t worry too much about how many shutouts I get. If they happen, great, but our job is to play solid as a defensive unit all game long.”
Mann’s counterpart, Guyette, made five saves in the match, as San Jose State outshot Air Force 19-11 in the match. Five players had at least two shots for the Spartans. SJSU also had seven corner kicks to the Falcons’ three in the match.
“We made it a little tougher on ourselves than we would have liked,” said head coach Gary St. Clair. “We had some opportunities throughout the match that we felt we should have put in the net. We put more pressure on ourselves in the second half, but fortunately for us, we came out on top.”
FINAL ROAD SWING
The victory gives the Spartans nine points in the MPSF standings, and within reaching distance of first place Denver, who defeated the Spartans on Thursday night, 1-0, in Spartan Stadium. San Jose State will make its last road swing of the season this weekend, as they will travel to Colorado to face Denver and Air Force.
“We are in for a dogfight,” said St. Clair in reference to the critical road trip. “It’s such a difficult trip to make, and then fight through the altitude factor and the opposing crowds which are tremendous, we definitely have our work cut out for us.”
AFA - 0 0 0 – 0
SJSU - 0 0 1- 1
SJSU – El Shaddai Bent (Julio Gonzalez, Hiroki Akiyama); 98:21
AFA – 11
SJSU – 19
AFA - 5 (Brian Guyette - 5)
SJSU - 3 (Richard Mann-3)
AFA – 3
SJSU - 7
AFA – 19
SJSU - 26