Las Vegas, Nev. -Goals from Nick Cashmere and Steven Sanchez led the San Jose State men's soccer team to a 2-1 win over the UNLV Rebels on Friday night. The victory secures a bid to the 2011 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Championship Tournament for the Spartans.
San Jose State's record stands at 8-5-3 overall, 5-3-0 in MPSF action. They have assured themselves of a winning record for the first time since 2008 and return to the MPSF Tournament for the first time since 2009. UNLV falls to 3-12-0, 2-6-0 in conference play.
"Give UNLV a lot of credit they came out and attacked us from the get go," said head coach Gary St. Clair. "They threw everything and the kitchen sink at us tonight, but I am really proud of the way we stood up to them."
Cashmere opened the scoring with a goal in the 23rd minute. Craig Hertler played the ball into the box on a cross from the left side. Cashmere took it, and from point blank range, tucked it away to give the Spartans the early advantage.
Despite UNLV outshooting the San Jose State 11-to-3 in the first 45 minutes, the Spartans went to the half up 1-0.
In the second half the Spartans were again outshot 9-to-3, but at the 67:56 mark center mid Roberto Casteneda played a throughball to the foot of Sanchez who drove through the box and blasted it to the right post. It was his team-leading sixth goal of the season. The goal would prove to be the game-winner, Sanchez's fifth game-winner of the year and fourth in the last five matches. For Casteneda, the assist was his fourth of the season. He now leads the team in assists.
UNLV got its goal in the 77th minute on a penalty kick from Jonny Espinosa.
"That penalty kick made the game a lot closer that I would have liked," St. Clair said, "but we gutted it out. Jonathan Lester and the entire back line played a tremendous game."
Lester improved his record to 8-4-3, stopping five of the six shots that reached him. The Rebels' keeper Ryan Harding took the loss and is 3-11-0.
The Spartans road trip continues on Sunday when they visit the undefeated and No. 1 ranked New Mexico Lobos for a noon kickoff.