North Division play to begin for Hornet’s men’s soccer team

Jordan Santos

Sacramento State men’s soccer finished up its only two-game road trip of the season last Saturday in a 0-2 loss to No.11-ranked UC Irvine.

The Hornets have played four Big West games thus far and have a conference record of 2-2-0, which is already an improvement from last season. The men collected only one conference win.

Hornets coach Michael Linenberger was pleased with his team’s ability to battle on the road and stay in contention in the North Division.

“[I’m] proud of my team,” Linenberger said. “[We] played well on Thursday against a very good CSUN team and secured three valuable points [and] played well in the first half against an excellent UC Irvine team, but came up short in the second half. Overall, a split on a trip like that is a pretty good result.”

The split puts the Hornets in position to compete in the North division of the Big West Conference, which consists of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara.

Coach Linenberger and the Hornets know that this is the most important time of their season because how they play against division opponents will determine if they make the Big West Tournament, which consists of the top-6 teams out of the eight-team league.

“We still have everything to play for, as all four teams in the North Division are only separated by one point,” Linenberger stated.

Points are rewarded based off if a team wins, loses or ties. Three points are rewarded for a win, one point for a tie and zero for a loss.

Sac State is currently at the bottom of the North Division with six points. Cal Poly, UC Davis and Santa Barbara are all tied with seven points each. With the one point differential separating them from the division leaders, it puts the team in a good position to catch up and make a run for a postseason bid.

The Hornets open up North Division play this weekend and will play each of their three division opponents twice, consisting of a road and home game, to finish out the rest of their season.

Sophomore defender Javier Muñoz said the Hornets are looking to move up in the standings by using the momentum they built last weekend with their win against Cal State Northridge.

“We had a great overall team performance this weekend,” Muñoz said. “We have improved a lot as a team over the past few games.”

All seven Hornet losses this season have been shutouts, but the team is 4-0-2 in games in which they have scored at least one goal. If the team can score at least one goal their odds of winning will dramatically increase.

“We are all really excited to open up Big West North play this weekend versus Cal Poly at home,” Muñoz said.

Sac State will kick off its first inter-division play when it hosts Cal Poly at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18 at Hornet Field.