San Jose, Calif. - With a 2-0 win over the Houston Baptist University (HBU) Huskies, on Sunday afternoon in Spartan Stadium, the San Jose State men's soccer team (7-8-1, 4-4-1 MPSF) earned a bid to the 2012 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Men's Soccer Tournament.
"The MPSF Tournament (November 8-11 in Albuquerque, N.M.) has been the goal all season," head coach Gary St. Clair said. "We were picked pretty low in the preseason poll and felt we had something to prove. We've been a team of streaks. But no matter when you get those points, at the beginning, the middle or the end of the season, they count. Were looking at this win as the start of another streak. If we get three points on Senior Night (November 3 vs. Seattle U) and head into Albuquerque on an high, I wouldn't want to play us."
The Spartans out shot the Huskies (4-9-2, 2-5-2) 19-to-11 on the day, with San Jose State wasting no time get going. Just 27 seconds into the match, Steven Sanchez got loose behind the HBU defense and just barely missed a goal to the far post.
In the first 19 minutes, San Jose State got off five shots and then in the 27th minute they struck.
Enrique Montano drove the ball hard down the right sideline and played it into the box. Kevin Suarez, the Huskies keeper, came off his line, and rather than clearing it or covering it up, knocked the ball just a few feet away. In the scramble in front, Sanchez pounced on the loose ball and tucked it inside the right post for a 1-0 Spartans lead. It was his team-leading ninth goal of the season and Montano's first point of the year.
At the 34:13 mark, Dylan Murphy got behind the HBU defense and, off a perfect pass from Montano, blasted a shot from close on the left wing. Suarez came out of his box and, with a fingertip touch, deflected the ball just beyond the far post to maintain the one goal differential. The teams went to the half with San Jose State staked to a 1-0 lead.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, Diego Ochoa took a free kick just outside the box on the far left wing. He bent it onto frame and slammed it off the crossbar. Tom Barnes, crashing on the set piece, found the ball on his boot, but knocked it high over the goal.
Barely two minutes later, at the 62:20 mark, Ochoa had another free kick from the top of the left side of the box, which Suarez stopped but didn't control. The ball came right to Montano who slipped it to Edwin Velazquez right in front. Velazquez's attempt went just right of the goal.
Finally in the 67th minute, San Jose State got the insurance goal for which they had been searching. Barnes picked the ball up in the midfield, pushed it up the left side and fed a streaking Jonathan Salceda. He flicked it over the oncoming Suarez into the empty net. It was Salceda's fifth goal of the year and Barnes' fourth assist.
"The guys played really well on Friday night and they played well today," St. Clair said. "One of the things I am most pleased with is they didn't get discouraged with all the chances they had but didn't convert. How some of those ball stayed out is beyond me, but that's the game. We could have gotten discouraged, folded and had them come back and score a goal, but the guys did a great job and they deserve this win."
"On a warm day like today," St. Clair said, "after giving so much on Friday night, the guys did a great job of recovering and a great job of preparing. From the start, this game felt like 'how many were we going to get and when would we put this one away.'"At this time of year, and it is an old cliché, but everyone is sore, hurt or tired. The guys that came (off the bench) did really well for us. Israel Ayala, played very well in the second half. Kyler (McLaughlin), AJ (Rana), Jamison (Loveless), Garret (Foster) and Jasper (Pipe), they all played well and got valuable time on the field."
Seventeen players, 16 in the field, saw time on Sunday. Sanchez and Ochoa led the Spartans with five shots each. Murphy and Barnes had two attempts apiece. Salceda, Velazquez, Montano, Foster and Rana had one shot each.
"You have to rely on the players coming off the bench on a Sunday late in the year," St. Clair added. "The starters are spent. Sometimes games are a matter of survival and that's what you saw out here today. One team was going to survive and one team wasn't. Were standing here with a win and I'll take that any time."
In goal for the Spartans, Emmanuel Espinosa faced 11 shots, just one, the last HBU attempt of the game, reached him. He earned his second clean sheet of the year and improved his record to 3-1-0.
Houston Baptist had three players, Zach Pierce, Christian Cruz and Walter Kromholz with two shots each. Suarez made four saves and allowed two goals in the loss.
San Jose State wraps up the regular season with a home match on Saturday, November 3 against Seattle U. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. in Spartans Stadium. It will be Senior Night, with ceremonies honoring the six seniors set to begin at 6:40 p.m.xxx