Men’s soccer ready to make late push for playoffs

Clifton Jones

With the end of the season in sight, Sacramento State men’s soccer is pushing to make a late run to clinch the final spot in the Big West Tournament Nov.12.

The remaining two games on the schedule are Wednesday against UC Santa Barbara and Saturday against UC Davis. Both games will be played at home at Hornet Field, where Sac State is 0-4-2 this season.

“This last week of the season has been an emotional week like every part of the season at this time of the year. This is a great group of seniors,” men’s soccer head coach Mike Linenberger said. “It is going to be hard to see them go after this year, but it is all apart of the process.”

Senior forward Isaac Ikyurav, junior forward Chimdum Mez and freshman defender Andrew Gosselin are tied with two goals apiece. Sophomore midfielder Edwin Luna leads the team with three goals after the Cal Poly loss on Saturday.

Last season, Sac State had better results in the first seven games going 4-2-1. This season, the Hornets are 1-6-0 partly because of the lack of a real scoring threat.

With the loss to the Cal Poly Mustangs 4-2, Saturday, the Hornets still remain in the playoff picture with the help of the draw between UC Davis and UCSB.

Sac State sits in fourth place with three points, UC Davis has eight points, Cal Poly has 11 and UCSB 20. Sac State needs to win both games in order for a shot at the last spot of the Big West Conference tournament.

Even with the slow start, senior goalkeeper Cesar Castillo said his team is peaking at the right time this season.

“Each game everyone is stepping up whether its an upperclassmen or a lowerclassmen showing up for us,” Castillo said. “It has helped us to build some momentum heading into these last two weeks of the season.”

Sac State has played UCSB 12 times since moving to Div. I in 1991, and has an all-time record of 3-8-1 against the Gauchos. In a game at UCSB back on Oct. 22, Sac State couldn’t find the equalizing goal as it fell 2-1.

The last 16 games against Davis, Sac State is 6-10-0 and 1-2-0 in conference. The lone win against the Aggies came in conference play Oct. 26.

“It was a great win for us against Davis, we needed the win big time. If we would have lost, we would have been out of the hunt for the last spot in the Big West,” Linenberger said.

Castillo has been a household name in the Hornet athletics community in his four years at Sac State. For good reason, he was a freshman all-american goalie and he has had a solid senior year this season.

Castillo may be down in goals-against-average from his freshman year when he posted up a 0.90, but he has been solid for the Hornets this season with a 1.60.

The senior goalkeeper isn’t bothered by the fact that his Hornet career could end against Davis.

“It has crossed my mind but I didn’t want to think about it because we had to prepare for Cal Poly,” Castillo said. “We are taking it one game at a time.”

Senior midfielder Almog Strikowski who has started 13 of the 16 games this season has scored one goal with an assist, to give him three points on the season.

“Hopefully it won’t be the last two games for us seniors,” Strikowski said. “If we win out, we may be able to host a tournament game later this month.”

Linenberger said his team has been in playoff mode since two weeks ago when they lost to Cal Poly on Oct. 19.

“The ultimate goal is to win against Cal Poly and UCSB in order to put us in great position for the Big West,” Linenberger said. “Even though we lost to Cal Poly on Saturday we thankfully are still in the playoff hunt.”

Sac State plays UC Santa Barbara today and UC Davis Saturday both games starting at 2 p.m.