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The State Hornet

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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’s scoring woes have led to a winless streak

Examining what’s gone wrong for Sac State men’s soccer this season
Sac+State+forward+Francisco+Maga%C3%B1a+takes+a+shot+against+Cal+Poly+Oct.+11%2C+2023.+The+Hornets+had+12+shots+against+the+Mustangs+but+weren%E2%80%99t+able+to+score.
Rinn Lee
Sac State forward Francisco Magaña takes a shot against Cal Poly Oct. 11, 2023. The Hornets had 12 shots against the Mustangs but weren’t able to score.

The Sacramento State men’s soccer team has hit a historically bad stretch of results this season.

The Hornets are in the midst of a 10 game winless streak. The last time Sac State went at least 10 games in a single season without a win was during the 1998 season, where that team failed to win a game all season and finished with a record of 0-16-2.

But this current Hornets team is nowhere near as bad as the 1998 team, so what has gone so wrong?

To put it bluntly, Sac State simply cannot score this season. Their lack of ability to score this season is the root of all their problems.

The Hornets currently occupy last place in the Big West largely in part to only managing to score two goals in six games. Those two goals are currently the least amount of goals scored by a team in the Big West in that time frame. They’ve also failed to score in four of their last five games.

Despite struggling to produce goals, the Hornets are actually doing a good job of preventing other teams from scoring goals and that’s the main reason why they’ve drawn four times in conference play.

Sac State has conceded five goals in six games in the Big West. That puts them in second place for goals conceded and they’re only a goal behind the top spot. Sac State has also recorded two shutouts in the six conference games they’ve played.

RELATED: Sac State tames the Cal Poly Mustangs’ attack in scoreless draw

What’s even more puzzling is that Sac State has not played “bad" in a majority of their games. Yes, they haven’t won in 10 games but they’ve had many opportunities.

In their last 10 games, the Hornets have lost six games and drawn four of them. Of those six losses, four of those were one-goal defeats. If the Hornets scored one more goal in those 10 games, their record would be 7-4-4 and they would be second in the Big West.

Hypotheticals are nice to imagine, but the fact of the matter is that they don’t do anything for Sac State. Imaginary goals aren’t going to save their season. They have to start scoring and winning games if they want to make the playoffs.

Sac State hasn’t won in 10 games but they are not a bad team. They’re an average team that’s missing an efficient attack, which is preventing them from being a good team.

“We’re a better team than we’re showing,” associate head coach Matt McDougall said on Sept. 22, 2023, after his team lost to San José State.

The amount of shots Sac State is taking is not why they’re struggling to score. They’ve taken 172 shots this season, which puts them fourth in the Big West, but that number can be misleading.

Sac State head coach Michael Linenberger was critical of his team’s attack after a scoreless draw with Cal Poly on Oct. 11, 2023.

“We’re still not dangerous enough going forward,” Linenberger said. “We’ve got to find a way we can keep the intensity, the good defending, but we gotta be a little more creative, a little more dangerous.”

Taking shots is always a positive and it looks good on the box score but what’s more important is the quality of the shot that’s being taken. If a team takes five long distance shots while their opponent takes five shots from close distance, the latter is creating better chances and is more likely to score.

This has been a problem for the Hornets all season. They’re taking shots, but those shots are not dangerous enough to find the back of the net.

This was evident in their game against Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 14. Sac State outshot Fullerton 17-13. According to Wyscout data, Sac State generated 0.81 xG while Fullerton produced 1.80 xG. Expected goals, or xG is a statistic that measures the quality of each shot and the probability it has of scoring.

The game against Fullerton was symbolic of how Sac State’s season has gone. Fullerton came into the match ranked as the No.13 team in the United Soccer Coaches poll. A bad team would’ve folded under the pressure of playing against a highly ranked opponent but Sac State didn’t.

They made it difficult for Fullerton throughout the entire 90 minutes of the match. A draw or win was certainly possible for the Hornets in this one but their offensive struggles continued.

Although the Hornets sit in last place, they can still qualify for the Big West playoffs. They have three games remaining in the regular season and if they can manage to win all three, they will likely make the playoffs. A loss in their next match does not mathematically eliminate them from playoff contention but makes it highly unlikely for them to qualify.

The Hornets will travel to Santa Barbara to take on UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday Oct. 18 at 7 p.m.

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About the Contributor
Joey Aguirre, Sports Editor
(he/him) Joey Aguirre is in his second semester at The State Hornet. He is a passionate sports fan and wants to pursue a career in sports media.
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