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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

Goalkeepers duel it out: Sac State and UC San Diego settle for scoreless draw

Hornets record a shutout for the first time in seven games
Sophomore+midfielder+Hasan+Alsakati+takes+a+free+kick+Saturday%2C+Sept.+30%2C+2023+against+UC+San+Diego.+Alsakati+had+a+team+high+of+four+shots+on+target+against+the+Tritons.
Malachi Parker
Sophomore midfielder Hasan Alsakati takes a free kick Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023 against UC San Diego. Alsakati had a team high of four shots on target against the Tritons.

The Sacramento State men’s soccer team was held to a 0-0 draw against UC San Diego on Saturday evening at Hornet Field.

After drawing for the first time this season on Wednesday against CSU Bakersfield, Sac State has now drawn two games in a row and gone six games without a win.

RELATED: A first half pen write’s off Sac State’s chance at a win

This was the first time the Hornets finished in a scoreless draw in a non-exhibition game since Sept. 11, 2018, against Pacific.

A 0-0 scoreline may give off the impression that the game was boring, but Saturday evening was filled with action.

It was one of Sac State’s most well-rounded performances of the season– they just couldn’t find the back of the net.

“I thought it might have been our most consistent 90-minute game of the year,” Sac State head coach Michael Linenberger said. “Disappointed we didn’t get a win.”

The Hornets started the game off strong– something they’ve struggled to do in recent games. Just 20 minutes into the first half, Sac State had four shots on target but all four of those shots were saved by the Tritons’ senior goalkeeper, Mitchell Wilson.

In the 20th minute, sophomore midfielder Hasan Alsakati and senior forward Austin Wehner connected for what could’ve been an amazing goal if it weren’t for Wilson. Alsakati sent a perfect trivela pass that could’ve been the best assist of the season for the Hornets if Wehner didn’t have his shot saved.

Sac State continued to outplay San Diego in the remaining 25 minutes of the first half.

The Hornets had a total of seven shots on target within the first 45 minutes, compared to only two shots on target for San Diego.

Sac State’s junior goalkeeper Mac Learned has been at the top of his game all season and things remained the same for him against San Diego.

Learned had six saves of the night to bring his season total for saves up to 62. Learned still remains in first place for total saves in NCAA D1 men’s soccer.

Wilson and Learned combined for a total of 15 saves in the game on Saturday.

Learned made the big saves like he’s done all season, but he wasn’t under as much pressure as he’s been under in recent games.

The amount of good looks on goal Sac State defense was giving up was something that concerned Linenberger as his team prepared to move to conference play.

Now two games into conference play and the Hornets’ defense is looking better. The defense had one of its best games of the season against San Diego and the shutout was a nice reward for their efforts.

Sac State’s defensive line was led by senior center-back Jaime Robles. Robles made his presence known on the pitch with several blocks, tackles, interceptions and clearances.

“We defended as a unit,” Robles said. “We stayed composed. I think a good thing that we did was find a rhythm.”

In the 12th minute of the game, Robles had a crucial shot block right in front of the goal. If Robles was not there to make the block, it would’ve been a difficult shot for Learned to save.

After making that block, Robles rightfully celebrated it. Center-backs do not often score goals, so when one makes a crucial block to prevent a goal, they often get as excited as they would if they scored.

“It definitely gets you hyped,” Robles said. “Blocking shots, laying your body on the line, it’s something to be proud of. I made a play for my team and I was stoked.”

Another notable performance on Saturday came from junior midfielder Ali Sasankhah. Sasankhah was an anchor in the midfield and he played a big part in keeping the Tritons off the board.

Sasankhah admitted that he had a tough start to the season, but having support from the coaching staff has helped him.

Linenberger called it Sasankhah’s best performance of the season.

“I totally agree,” Sasankhah said. “I’m so blessed to have coaches like Mike, Dugie and Bashar. They were the reason why I performed the way I did today.”

The Hornets will now head to Riverside for the first of a two-game road trip as they take on UC Riverside Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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About the Contributor
Joey Aguirre
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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