Matt Linenberger makes game-winning goal at home opener in overtime

Sacramento State senior midfielder Alex Lopez tries to get away from San Diego's Matthew Chavez Friday at the Hornets' home opener. The game went into overtime and Sac State won 2-1. 

state hornet 2012

Sacramento State senior midfielder Alex Lopez tries to get away from San Diego’s Matthew Chavez Friday at the Hornets’ home opener. The game went into overtime and Sac State won 2-1. 

Rudy Saenz

Due to a diving goal by senior Matt Linenberger in overtime, the Sacramento State men’s soccer team defeated the University of San Diego 2-1 Friday at Hornet Field during the team’s home opener.

The majority of the game was defined by penalties with 24 fouls and five yellow cards, but the Hornets were the first to strike with a midfield goal by senior Chris Sandoval.

Sixty-five minutes into a scoreless and penalty-ridden game, San Diego’s Christian Duke lost the ball to Sandoval, who took the shot. From yards behind the midfield line, Sandoval sent a high kick toward the goal that flew over San Diego goalkeeper Michael D’Arrigo’s head and went in. 

“None of us even knew what Sandoval was doing at first, “ Linenberger said. “He lifted up his head for a minute and you’ve got to have complete skill to drive it in and get that goal.”

Sandoval said he had good reason for his unorthodox goal.

“The funny thing is, I was watching D’Arrigo throughout the whole game and thinking he was off his line,” Sandoval said.

The Hornets recorded nearly three times as many shots in the San Diego match (20) as they did in their opener against Oregon State (7). Sac State head coach Michael Linenberger said there was a reason for the big difference.

“We felt (in) all three of our previous games, we came out slow,” Linenberger said. ”We said we’re at home, they’re traveling (and) we need to dictate the energy of the game.”

After surrendering four goals in the season opener, junior goalkeeper Cesar Castillo was replaced by senior Bryan Oliver. Linenberger said the change of goalkeepers was not the reason for an improved defense, but because of a more defense-minded focus.

“I thought we had the whole team buy into energy and effort to defend and effort to runs going forward to put the opponent’s defense under pressure,” Linenberger said.

The Hornets were holding onto a 1-0 lead with one minute left of regulation, but San Diego scored by a header from a free-kick by Dan Delgado to Thomas Fiskerstrand, which sent the game to overtime.

Less than two minutes into overtime, the Hornets scored on a free-kick header resembling San Diego’s game tying goal just minutes before.

Taken by forward Max Alvarez, the free-kick found Linenberger diving to head it in to win the game.

“I was fortunate enough to make a back post run,” Linenberger said. “Max just saw me on the back post, made eye contact, knocked it and I was able to head it in.”

Sac State will next face Saint Mary’s Sunday at 1 p.m. at Hornet Field.

Rudy Saenz can be reached at [email protected]