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The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Student news without fear or favor

Sac State men’s soccer split two games on road trip

Hornets move to 3-3 on the season
Sophomore+midfielder+Hasan+Alsakati+attempting+a+pass+against+Utah+Tech+Thursday%2C+August+31%2C+2023.+Alsakati+scored+his+first+collegiate+level+goal+against+Loyola+Marymount.
Sacramento State Athletics
Sophomore midfielder Hasan Alsakati attempting a pass against Utah Tech Thursday, August 31, 2023. Alsakati scored his first collegiate level goal against Loyola Marymount.

The Sacramento State men’s soccer team collected a win and a loss in the final two games of their last road trip of September.

On Thursday, they comfortably beat Pacific. They then suffered a defeat on Sunday against Loyola Marymount. The loss snapped the Hornets’ three-game winning streak and moved them to 3-3 in the season.

Thursday: Sacramento State 5 vs. Pacific 2

Sac State collected a big win on Thursday night in Stockton after beating the University of the Pacific Tigers 5-2.

The win against Pacific was Sac State’s third consecutive win after suffering a 5-1 defeat against Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.

“We had a team talk after we got back from the Northwest,” Sac State head coach Michael Linenberger said. “We’ve responded three games in a row so that’s been good. The challenge now is to keep that rolling and not get complacent.”

Pacific started the game off strong, and Sac State’s junior goalkeeper Mac Learned was forced into action in just the third minute, where he made a comfortable save.

In the seventh minute, Sac State earned a corner kick. Senior right-back Genaro Alfaro stepped up to take the corner and perfectly placed a cross that found senior left-back Bryan Gutierrez, where he then headed the ball past Pacific’s goalkeeper.

This was Gutierrez’s first match back after serving a two-game suspension because of a red card he received in the game against Air Force.

“It’s not easy putting someone back into the starting eleven… especially after a loss and on top of that, getting a two-game suspension,” Gutierrez said. “I was just happy that the coaches put their trust back into me. I owe it all to them.”

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In the 19th minute, the Hornets won their second corner kick of the match and the result was the same as the first. Alfaro and Gutierrez once again connected on the goal, giving Sac State a two-goal lead and Gutierrez his first brace at the collegiate level.

“I kind of felt like I was having a déjà vu moment because it was exactly the same,” Gutierrez said. “Right in the same spot.”

Alfaro had an outstanding match, both offensively and defensively. Minutes after picking up his second assist of the game, he had a clutch interception to prevent a clear goal-scoring opportunity for Pacific.

Sac State saw their lead cut to one goal after Pacific scored from a corner. The ball deflected off two players before finding the goal-scorer, sophomore defender Marco Martinez.

As for the start of the second half, Sac State came out flat and the Tigers quickly took advantage of that. After a quiet first-half, Pacific’s leading goal-scorer, fifth-year forward Derick Roque scored the equalizer in the 48th minute.

Pacific continued to put the pressure on Sac State after the equalizer, but Learned was intent on keeping the score tied. By the 54th minute, Learned’s save tally was up to eight, a mark that matched his career high for saves in a game.

It was in the 63rd minute when the momentum shifted in favor of Sac State.

Alfaro lobbed a through ball to junior forward Dominic Vegaalban, who found himself in a 1v1 opportunity with the goalkeeper. Vegaalban was able to draw a foul and a red card on Pacific’s goalie.

“Having them a man down and then having a second-string goalkeeper come in,” Vegaalban said. “I knew that he was probably going to be a little nervous.”

Sac State took advantage of the red card immediately. Vegaalban stepped up and scored with a fantastic, curved shot to the upper near post to give the Hornets a 3-2 lead.

“I just tried to curl it around the wall and go near post and even put it on target and get a goal for us,” Vegaalban said.

Just five minutes later, Vegaalban found the back of the net again to give the Hornets a 4-2 lead. Senior midfielder Cody Sundquist and senior forward Christo Cervantes connected on the build-up to the goal and both players picked up their second assist of the season.

In the 80th minute, Vegaalban once again found the back of the net to complete his hat trick. Freshman defender Zac Giles and senior forward Michael Gonzalez both picked up their first assist of the season.

Sunday: Sacramento State 1 vs. Loyola Marymount 2

Sac State saw their three-game winning streak snapped after losing to the #24 Loyola Marymount Lions Sunday.

It was a heartbreaking defeat for the Hornets as they were just 25 seconds away from drawing before they conceded a penalty kick and Loyola Marymount converted.

“Heartbreaking way to lose but a couple of critical mistakes in the end that kind of gave them that opportunity,” Linenberger said.

Sac State started the game off quickly, as sophomore midfielder Hasan Alsakati scored his first goal at the collegiate level off of a long-distance shot in the seventh minute.

“It felt amazing, especially coming to a place, playing a ranked team and it being an important game,” Alsakati said. “It meant a lot more – especially to start off the game and have the team on the front foot.”

The Sac State coaching staff did their homework for this game and made it a point of emphasis to shoot from distance early in the game.

“I’ll give a shoutout to coach McDougall,” Alsakati said. “In the pregame, we had a scout on LMU and he stated that we should start shooting early, and from distance because their keeper isn’t as good or flexible from shots from distance.”

The Hornets only maintained their lead for a short while. In the 29th minute of the game, the Lions equalized the game. It was an unlucky goal as the ball got stuck in between a Sac State defender’s legs and ultimately found LMU forward Lewis Clutton for an easy tap-in.

In the second half, the Hornets took a more conservative approach to the game – taking fewer risks and committing less players forward to ensure they did not concede again.

Like in the match against Pacific, Learned kept Sac State in the game. He followed up his eight-save performance with seven saves on Sunday evening.

“Obviously, I want to do my job,” Learned said. “So making saves that I need to make, I feel helps my team and motivates my team to do the best they can.”

In the 82nd, the Hornets had a great chance to take the lead when the ball found junior midfielder Francsico Magana in the penalty box. Magana took a shot but the ball hit the crossbar.

It was in the 89th minute a whistle was blown to award the Lions with a penalty and the draw slipped out of the Hornets’ hands – just 35 seconds away from the final whistle. Forward graduate student Ryan Kingsford calmly scored the penalty and won the game for the Lions.

The Hornets will now return home to face Saint Mary’s College on Thursday at 4 pm.

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Joey Aguirre, Sports Staffer
(he/him) Joey Aguirre is a fourth-year journalism major. He is a passionate sports fan and wants to pursue a career in sports journalism.
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