Hornets lose 4-2, miss postseason


Sac State forward Cylus Sandoval attempts a shot against Cal Poly goalie Wade Hamilton on Saturday, Oct. 31st, 2015 at Hornet Field.

Christopher Bullock

With only one game deciding the third and final playoff spot for the Big West Conference North division, Sacramento State’s men’s soccer team needed their stingers locked and loaded on Saturday.

That would not be the case, however, as two quick goals by Cal Poly in the first half led to a 4-2 win for the Mustangs (10-3-5, 5-1-4 in Big West), who locked up second place with their victory over the Hornets.

Sac State (6-10-2, 3-6-1 in Big West) would have made it to the Big West postseason tournament if they had won. Instead, UC Davis, who lost to first-place UC Santa Barbara, ended up clinching the third spot.

Sac State junior defender Preston Davis was disappointed in the final result of the game.

“We shot ourselves in the foot,” Davis said. “Our destiny wasn’t even in our own hands, and we still came out empty-handed.”

Before the game, the Sac State soccer team and the fans said goodbye to the three departing seniors on the team: Isaac Flores, Brad Kellogg and Cesar Mendoza.

The small ceremony motivated the Hornets, who came out in the beginning playing as stingy a defense they had played all season. In the 19th minute, Flores passed the ball to Mendoza, who broke away from the Mustangs defense. Mendoza then sent a hard kick to Brad Bumgarner, who scored his seventh goal of the season to put Sac State up 1-0.

Unfortunately, that was where things began to unravel for the Hornets. In the 34th minute, Sac State turned the ball over to Cal Poly and ended up regretting it immediately. Cal Poly midfielder Chase Minter broke away from three Sac State defenders and finished with a goal in the box to tie the game at 1-1.

Nine minutes later, Minter made Sac State pay again. A hard foul by Sac State gave Cal Poly a penalty kick. Minted lined up for the Mustangs and sailed the kick right over Hornets goalkeeper James Del Curto to give Cal Poly a 2-1 lead.

Sac State would respond to the goal with one of their own shortly thereafter. In the 45th minute, just before halftime, Hornets forward Cylus Sandoval tied the game at two with a penalty kick. The goal was Sandoval’s fourth of the season.

Going into halftime, Cal Poly outshot Sac State 9-4.

In the second half, Cal Poly looked to put the game away for good, In the 60th minute, Mustangs midfielder Matt LaGrassa took a touch pass from teammate George Grote and scored his fifth goal of the season to give Cal Poly a 3-2 lead.

Sac State coach Michael Linenberger gave a blunt assessment of his team’s defense.

“We made poor choices on the ball,” Linenberger said. “We basically gave away the first three goals.”

Sac State would start to battle back offensively, but Cal Poly did a great job of keeping the ball on Sac State’s side of the field. In the 85th minute, Cal Poly midfielder Ruben Duran sent a long ball to forward Ishmail Seremba, who outran the Hornets defense and scored his first goal of the season to put Cal Poly ahead for good 4-2.

Sac State redshirt junior defender John Quintanilla didn’t mince words when it came to how his team lost.

“We had a lost opportunity,” Quintanilla said. “We could’ve won it here at home and been in the playoffs next week, but we didn’t do the job we came to do.”

With the loss, Sac State was officially eliminated from postseason contention. The Big West Tournament now looks like this after today’s season finale: UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly and UC Davis will represent the North division, and Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge and UC Irvine will represent the South division.