San Francisco men’s soccer experienced a rude awakening on a trip down south this weekend when they faced the Lions of Loyola Marymount University and the Toreros from the University of San Diego. In their match on Friday night at Torero Stadium, the Dons fell 1-0 allowing a goal for the first time in 340 minutes. In their second match on Sunday at LMU, the Dons lost 2-1 against a strong Lions team laden with experienced seniors.
USF entered Friday’s game undefeated, leading the West Coast Conference with a record of 3-0-1. The Toreros, on the other hand, were reeling from a very disappointing loss to Gonzaga and came out onto the field hungry for a win. In the first half the Toreros held an 8-4 shot advantage, applying lots of pressure to the Don’s defense. However the Dons defense held firm, led by junior goalkeeper Brendan Roslund and freshman center back David Romney, denying every Torero advance.
In the second half the Dons came out stronger, playing with more possession and creativity. Freshman forward Miguel Aguilar fired three shots and senior defender Kevin Orozco contributed a pair as well, giving USF the advantage for the half. Even with the advantage in shots the Dons struggled to really test San Diego’s experienced senior goalie Adam Campbell. The San Diego defense played well as a unit with effective communication that stymied the Dons ability to create effective chances.
In the 62nd minute disaster struck for the Dons when San Diego’s senior forward Stephen Posa found sophomore defender Elijah Galbraith-Knapp at the top of the 6-yard box. The Dons goalie Roslund looked to have the play under control after coming off his line to corral Posa’s pass, but the ball bounced past his hands and Galbraith-Knapp was able to slide the ball into an open net.
Last week, Gonzaga rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the 77th minute to beat the Toreros. After finally securing the lead USD was determined not to let the Dons get an equalizer. The game was still far from over as San Francisco continued to fight. In the 82nd minute San Diego added to its troubles when junior midfielder Conor McFadden earned himself a red card, giving San Francisco a man advantage for the remainder of the game. Two minutes after Mcfadden’s ejection, Don’s forward Tanner Smith launched a shot on goal, forcing Torero keeper Campbell to make a save.
In his comments after the game coach Visser said, “They beat us to the ball early
and we did not show enough of a sense of urgency. I thought we had a better second half. They scored against the run of play, but overall we just did not create enough scoring opportunities to get the result.”
On Sunday the Dons faced the defending league champion Lions from LMU in a day game at Sullivan Field. The Lions came out very strong with lots of offensive pressure right from the whistle. Once again, the Dons defense was able to hold off LMU’s aggressive advances throughout the first half, but the pressure would eventually be too great. By the end of the first half the Lions held a 6 to 1 shot advantage over the Dons.
Only nine minutes into the second half, the Lions’ consistent pressure finally paid off. Senior midfielder Kyle Johanson started the play when he went streaking down the left side of the field and blasted a left footed ball across the field to the right side of the 18-yard box. Running on to the cross was senior forward Phil Da Silva, who acrobatically redirected the ball with his head to the top of the 6-yard box. Junior midfielder Sean Sears met with Da Silva’s header just inside the 6-yard box as he beat his defender to the ball, poking it past Roslund as he came off his line to attempt a save.
Twenty minutes later LMU would find the net again on another long cross this time from senior forward Jonas Reiter. Reiter crossed half on the right flank into Dons territory and let loose a long cross to the top corner of the 6-yard box. The cross lured Roslund off his line but flew just out of his reach and LMU forward Artur Jozkowicz tapped the ball in off of a deflection. Roslund was tested again and again throughout the match recording 7 saves and facing 18 shots.
Barely 2 minutes after the Dons went down 2-0, a bit of luck and a defensive blunder by the Lions put USF on the table. USF midfielder Vergard Karlsen’s blocked shot in the 78th minute was followed up by freshman forward Danny Kirkland who placed the ball in the upper corner. It was Kirkland’s first career goal for the Dons. Karlsen led the Dons in shots for the match with three.
After the results of this weekend the Dons dropped from first place to third with San Diego taking the number one seat. In second place is Saint Mary’s who have only one more point than the Dons. In his commentary after the game Visser praised his young team saying, “If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that with this young group we would sit in third place with 10 points, I think that’s pretty good. Now we have the opportunity to work on some things and prepare the team to start the second half.”
The Dons have a bye this upcoming week and will host a special alumni game on Saturday. The event is scheduled for 11 AM at Negoesco field and will feature players from past teams coming back to the Hilltop for a match against the current players.