Historic season comes to an end for men’s soccer

Jordan Santos

The Sacramento State men’s soccer program capped off a historic regular season by making its first postseason appearance in the Big West Conference on Saturday since joining three years ago.

At the beginning of the season the men were projected to finish in last place in the Big West North Division according to the conference’s coaches poll.

The Hornets lost 0-2 at No. 18 UC Irvine in the first round of the Big West Tournament. Despite the loss, the team believed they showed their depth and resilience this season with their three-win improvement in conference play and a clinched postseason berth.

The game was scoreless in the first half with each team having two shots on goal. In the second half, UC Irvine proved to be the aggressors by creating more set pieces and scoring opportunities than the Hornets.

After three consecutive corner kicks, UC Irvine scored the first goal in the 64th minute of the game after a corner by midfielder Eduardo Calzada was eventually headed in by defender Matt Tilley. A minute and a half later, midfielder Mitchell Alvarez fired a lead pass to forward Cameron Iwasa who finished to the far post.

The Hornets tied the game late in the final two minutes of the game. The first chance came in the 89th minute when sophomore midfielder Bert Corona hit a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar. Moments later, senior forward Chimdum Mez fired a header that was just high of the post.

The team attributed their struggles against UC Irvine and other teams this season due to their inability to create scoring opportunities for themselves and prevent them from their opponents. Against UC Irvine, the Hornets fell to a 7-2 shots on goal disadvantage and also were behind 7-1 on corner kicks.

Sac State coach Michael Linenberger spoke after the game about his team’ s journey this season.

“There were many peaks and valleys throughout the season, but we finished on a high note by winning some key games down the stretch and on the road to qualify for our first Big West Conference Tournament,” Linenberger said.

This season the team finished with a 6-11-3 overall record and a 4-5-1 conference record. The team’s leading goal scorer and senior forward Chimdum Mez played the final game of his collegiate career as a Hornet and believes the program has more to offer on offense despite his exit from the squad.

“I thought it was a fun season with a great group of guys,” Mez said. “Being a young team, we made mistakes here and there but the future is looking really bright for this team.”

According to the team, the future of the men’s soccer program is in good hands with Hornets’ sophomore goalkeeper Philip Bru and his defense. Bru had five saves against UC Irvine and kept the Hornets in every game down the stretch with his dominant saves.

Bru attributes the team’s success this season to their work ethic and is happy with the direction of the program and the effort put in by his teammates.

“I’m very proud of the amount of work we’ve all put in this season,” Bru said. “Getting into the playoffs for the first time was a big step and I’m excited for the future of this team.”

The Hornets are looking to have a promising season next year as they are bringing back 20 of the team’s 25 players.