Denver, Colo. - The San Jose State Spartans (9-7-3) got four second half goals in a 20-minute span to end the Sacramento State Hornets(9-8-2) season in the quarterfinal round of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Championship Tournament on Thursday night.
The Spartans used goals from Diego Ochoa, Mauricio Murrillo, Steven Sanchez and Nick Cashmere to erase a 1-0 Sacramento State halftime lead and win 4-2.
"I feel great for our players," head coach Gary St. Clair said. "We have battled so much all year and despite some injuries this team has never given up. A lesser group would not have been able to fight through the diversity we have. I can say enough about our players."
The Hornets, who outshot San Jose State 9-to-5 in the first half, took a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute. At the 15:04 mark, a Spartans handball in the box which led to a penalty kick. Max Alvarez took the kick and converted for his fifth goal of the season.
Then in the second half the Spartans erupted.
At the 58:05 mark, Diego Ochoa got the equalizer. The Hornets committed a handball of their own in the box and Ochoa converted his penalty kick for a 1-1 score. It was his third goal of the season.
However, the Hornets came right back. Just 35 seconds later Almog Strikowski took a pass from Alex Lopez and from 20-yards out drove it to the upper right corner to put Sacramento State back ahead 2-1.
The Spartans then scored three goals in slightly less than nine minutes.
Mauricio Murrillo picked up his third of the season on a header off a free kick from Ochoa. Ochoa served it from the right side to the center of the box where Murrillo headed it home to tie the match at 2-2.
Barely two minutes later, in the 73rd minute, Steven Sanchez put the Spartans ahead for good. Roberto Casteneda passed the ball up the left side to Dylan Murphy. Murphy played the ball to the top of the box for Sanchez, who one timed it in for what would end up being the game winner. It was Sanchez's seventh goal of the season and his fifth consecutive game winner.
Nick Cashmere put the game away at the 79:25 mark. Ryan Thomas had a long throw in to Sanchez who beat the defense down the right side. Sanchez centered the ball to Cashmere who tucked it into an open net for a 4-2 lead.
"We changed some aspects of our system at halftime and executed it flawlessly," St. Clair said. "The last three goals were big-time, world-class scores. They would have gone in against anybody."
San Jose State will face No. 1 ranked New Mexico in semifinal #1 on Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. Mountain Time.