Men’s soccer remains undefeated in conference to hold first place in Northern Division

James Heck

The Sacramento State men’s soccer team continued its winning streak in the Big West Conference Sunday as it beat UC Riverside 1-0 at Hornet Field.

The Hornets (7-4-1, 4-0 Big West) have won their past five games and are first place in the North Division of the Big West Conference. They are only one win away from tying their five-game conference win-streak set in 2009. The Hornets won the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation regular season title that year by going 6-0-1 in their conference.

“We kind of came into it with more energy and more confidence,” said junior forward Isaac Ikyurav. “Overall the team effort was tremendous. I think I played my part pretty good, but it was a team effort.”

The first half of the match saw neither team putting any points on the board. The game turned into a more physical affair in the second half with the Highlanders being dealt three yellow cards and two red cards. The Hornets also received two yellow cards and one red card.

The first red card was dealt to Highlander Jose Diaz in the 58th minute. The second red card was issued to Highlander Aaron Long in the 78th minute when he intentionally hand-balled Isaac Flores’ shot in the box. A penalty kick ensued and Sac State forward Max Alvarez connected on the game’s only goal, sending the score to 1-0.

The Highlanders played with only nine players against the Hornets’ 11 for roughly 10 minutes until another red card was issued to Hornet Alex Lopez in the 79th minute. UC Riverside played out the remaining minutes of the game with nine players against Sac State’s 10.

UC Riverside had 16 total shots with seven on goal. Sac State had 14 total shots with five on goal. The Highlanders also led the Hornets in corner kicks 9-8.

Hornet goalkeeper Bryan Oliver recorded his fourth shutout of the season, including two in conference games, to boast a 0.48 goals against average.

With this victory against UC Riverside, the Hornets defeated each opponent in the South Division of the Big West Conference, which also includes UC Irvine, CSU Northridge and CSU Fullerton.

“It gives us confidence going into the next game against Cal Poly,” Ikyurav said. “We’re going into the game with confidence so we can actually play good soccer.”

Ikyurav said the home crowd was one of the factors that contributed to Hornets’ victory against UC Riverside and the goal against Cal Poly will be to continue to defend the home field.

The Hornets have won five of their home games this year, tying one, and are 23-3-7 at home over the last four seasons. One of those losses was to a conference opponent.

The Hornets’ next game is 4 p.m. Friday against Big West Conference opponent Cal Poly at Hornet Field.

James Heck can be reached at jmh479@saclink.csus.edu.