The USF Dons men’s soccer team clashed with the California State Polytechnic University Mustangs on Sept. 30. The match went the distance and then some, ending in a 0-0 draw after two overtime periods.
The Dons came out like they were hopped up on America’s most popular morning beverage on the aptly named “Salute to Caffeine Night.” Energized from the outset, the Dons controlled the midfield battle, stifling most of the Mustangs’ chances with some stout defense, and were creative in their attack, creating six shots in the first half compared to the Mustangs’ three.
The Dons came out like they were hopped up on America’s most popular morning beverage on the aptly named “Salute to Caffeine Night.”
Despite having the majority of attacking chances, the Dons failed to register a single shot on target in the first half. The best chance of the opening period fell to the Mustangs 33 minutes into the game when midfielder Diego Alonso played a short pass into the box from the left wing. Emmanuel Perez received the pass and made a quick turn, taking the Dons defenders out of the play. Perez released a powerful strike from his left foot, which went arrowing towards the top-right corner of the goal until Dons redshirt junior goalkeeper Alejandro Munoz sprung into action, deflecting the shot away from danger.
The second half marked the start of more physical play from both teams. In the 52nd minute, Mustangs defender Josh Graham fouled Dons freshman midfielder Jaidon Reynolds hard near the midfield circle. Graham attempted to pry the ball off Reynolds, but in the process, stuck his studs into the hip of Reynolds — Graham received a yellow card for his transgression.
The Mustangs poured on the pressure with 10 minutes to go in the match, sending three shots on goal within three minutes for the visiting side. The first shot was a towering header directed into the midriff of Munoz, who made the save easily. The second was a curled effort from the Mustangs, which Munoz caught assuredly with two hands. The third was a venomous half-volley from 30 yards away that was palmed into the ground by Munoz to keep things level.
Both overtime periods were wide-open affairs, which saw continued aggressive play but ended without either team creating a good enough chance to nab a coveted golden goal.
Speaking on Munoz’s performance, Dons first-year Head Coach Leonard Griffin said, “I’m really proud of Alejandro Munoz for getting his first start and getting a shutout on the night. We’re confident in all the guys to step up when their number is called, and he did that tonight.”