Sacramento State’s men’s soccer team showed that when playing with the pros, they are able to hold their own.
Playing in front of near-capacity crowd of 907 people, Sac State played wire-to-wire against the United Soccer League’s Sacramento Republic FC, ultimately losing 1-0 Wednesday at Hornet Field.
For Sac State head coach Michael Linenberger, this home crowd helped the team to play at near-regular season form.
“In the spring, normally you’re playing games in front of 10 people, 50 people; it’s a friendly environment,” Linenberger said. “It was a friendly game, but you had a great crowd, great environment. This game replicated the fall, as close as we could get to it, and it’s important.”
Sac State started the game a little bit behind the eight ball, looking sluggish as Sac Republic dominated the ball for the first few minutes of the game. Linenberger attributed that to the lack of playing time the team has had since coming back from Costa Rica in January.
“This was our first game in over a month,” Linenberger said. “I feel fatigue played a little bit of a role, we weren’t super sharp, but I certainly thought we had good moments.”
Sac State started to get things together in the fourth minute, as sophomore Cylus Sandoval got an open look at the Republic goal. His shot ended up sliding just past the far post. Another scoring opportunity for the Hornets was denied early on, as sophomore Dominic Scotti had a shot blocked by Republic goalkeeper Dominik Jakubik in the 12th minute.
The first and only goal in the game came in the 13th minute, when Republic forward Harry Williams took a pass from midfielder– and former Sac State Hornet– Max Alvarez and finished in the far post.
Sac Republic FC continued to stay aggressive throughout the first half, but Sac State managed to contain them. At the end of the first half, the Republic outshot Sac State seven to two.
Sac State began to show signs of life in the second half, displaying a sign of grit and toughness that a team normally wouldn’t show in an exhibition game. They began to play tougher defense, slowed down the Republic in scoring opportunities, and saw some of their reserves step up on the field.
Freshman Isaiah Brown, who didn’t play during the 2015 season but did play during Sac State’s trip to Costa Rica, impressed the home crowd with his speed and overall effort during the game. Brown, who was playing his first game in front of the home crowd, was happy to get the experience and show what he was capable of against a professional team.
“The energy was crazy, it was something I had to take in for a moment,” Brown said. “It was great to compare myself to them [Sac Republic]. It’s where I want to be, so I know how hard I have to work.”
Sac State junior goalkeeper Philip Bru was also impressive, making two saves, including a denial on a close header from the Republic’s Richie Cardoza with two minutes left to play.
Sac State junior defender Javier Munoz, one of the team captains, was proud of the performance the Hornets put on Wednesday.
“Off of the past two seasons when we played them, to have the performance we did today, it meant a lot to us,” Munoz said. “We knew we could do better, and today…we did.”
Sac State will continue their spring season on Monday, March 28, when the team travels to Berkeley to play Cal.