Hornets lose conference opener in blowout against UC Riverside

Jordan Santos

Sacramento State men’s soccer (2-6-2) were shut out in their Big West Conference opener against the UC Riverside Highlanders (2-6-1) at home on Thursday afternoon.

UC Riverside’s offense dominated early and often by scoring all of its four goals in the first half of regulation.

The Highlanders scored their first goal of the game in the 14th minute when sophomore defender Stephen Copley headed in a ball to the near post off a free kick from 30 yards out.

In the 23rd minute, the Highlanders doubled their lead when junior forward Michael Salazar collected a blocked ball off a Hornets defender and finished it into the far left post.

UC Riverside’s offense was far from putting the game on cruise control. Their aggressiveness paid off with two more goals before the end of the first half.

Highlanders sophomore midfielder Andre Parada scored off a corner kick that was initially deflected by the Hornets in the 35th minute.

The goal was quite controversial because it looked as though Hornet’s goalkeeper Teddy Sampson blocked it out before crossing the line. However, the referee awarded the goal to UC Riverside to put the score at 3-0.

With 23 seconds remaining in the first half, the Highlanders scored their final goal of the game after senior defender Otis Earle collected a short lead pass from teammate Romario Lomeli and fired a low shot to the far post.

The first half ended with the Highlanders up four goals. Neither team was able to score in the second half in what became a stalemate for the remaining 45 minutes.

Despite the score, the Hornets had stretches of play where they dominated the tempo of the game.

Sac State had more time of possession, but were unable to create scoring chances inside the UC Riverside’s penalty box.

Hornets coach Michael Linenberger, believes that it is the small aspects of the game that need to change in order for his team to progress.

“The little details, at this level, makes a huge difference,” Linenberger stated. “Part of it was [that] we weren’t good enough. Part of it was that, I thought, they [UC Riverside] defended well and were compact.”

The surprising statistic of this game is that the Hornets only had two fewer shots than UC Riverside, 12-10. UC Riverside did have six shots on goal compared to the Hornets’ three shots on goal.

Sac State returned several impact players from injury in this match. They returned senior captain Mason McCann and sophomore defender Andrew Gosselin.

McCann was happy to be back on the field, but was frustrated with his team’s performance Thursday.

“Obviously it’s rough,” McCann said. “4-0. Not something you want to start off with at home; especially in the Big West, one of the best conferences in the nation. At the same time, you have to look at the positives. I feel we outplayed them [UC Riverside] in the second half.”

Gosselin was an all-conference freshman last season and was ecstatic to get back onto the field.

“It feels amazing,” Gosselin said. “I’m just glad I can be back before conference started. It [the injury] was really painless the whole game. I’m just trying to play my way back into the starting lineup.”

The Hornets will have a chance to redeem themselves at home on Saturday Oct. 4 when they take on Cal State Fullerton.