Hornets men’s soccer fall 3-0 to UCSB, Big West playoff hopes dwindle


Dylan McNeill

Sacramento State men’s soccer junior midfielder Oscar Govea hits a corner kick against CSU Bakersfield on Oct.13, 2021, at Hornet Field in a 2-0 loss.The Hornets currently average 1.06 goals a match.

Dylan McNeill

Sacramento State soccer visited the UC Santa Barbara to take on the first seed Gauchos in a Big West matchup on Wednesday. 

Sacramento State, who is currently seventh in the Big West tournament standings, suffered a deflating 3-0 loss.

From the first whistle, the Gauchos were launching passes over the heads of the Hornet defense and had Sac State on their heels . 

It would remain that way for the whole match. 

The first half was filled with constant pressure on the Hornet defense. The team was able to hold their own until the 32nd minute when senior forward Ameyawu Muntari headed in a corner kick to make it 1-0. 

The Gauchos quickly made it 2-0 when in the 42nd minute sophomore midfielder Nemo Phillipp struck a goal past Hornets junior goalkeeper Ryan Curtis just before halftime.

In the second half, the Hornets started out much more aggressive, but their threats were neutralized due to the Gauchos defense and stout goalkeeping from sophomore Leroy Zeller. 

Zeller had nine saves in the match while shutting out the Hornets. 

This was the Hornets third time in four games that they were shutout as their postseason hopes faded with each goal.

On a counterattack by Santa Barbara, the Gauchos were able to find their third goal of the night after a save by Curtis.

The rebound was collected by UCSB freshman forward Salvador Aguilar and deposited into the back of the net to ice the game.

“I actually thought the game went according to the plan,” said head coach Michael Linenberger. “They had a lot of the ball. They sent a lot of numbers forward, and we created quite a few chances on the counter. We weren’t quite clean enough with the chances we created on the counter.”

The Hornets, unlike in some games this year, were able to get shots on goal. However, they could not get anything past Zeller. Sophomore forward Titus Washington, who scored the game-winner last Saturday versus UC San Diego, was active once again for Sac State totaling six shots including three on goal. 

“I felt we should have scored a couple goals tonight,” Linenberger said. “I thought we were pretty good.”

It was a forgettable night all around for the Hornets defensively, Curtis allowed three goals before being replaced by freshman goalkeeper Edgar Guerra. 

The three goals Curtis allowed were the most since Sept. 10 against University of Nevada, Las Vegas in a 3-1 home loss.

“As of right now, we’re just focusing on the next game, not really looking towards what’s going to happen in the postseason,” said sophomore midfielder Zach Mason. “We’ve just got to take care of business in the next game.”

The Hornets have just two Big West matches remaining. They are just shy of the postseason tournament as the top six teams in the Big West participate.

“We’re looking forward to it,” said junior midfielder Oscar Govea. “The guys know the scenario we’re put in. It’s kind of a motivation factor at this point. As a team we didn’t look too down on the result. We knew Santa Barbara was a good team; they’re on top of the conference.” 

Sac State has their homecoming game this Saturday at Hornet Field versus CSU Fullerton. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m., and the game is available for stream here.