This past foggy Friday night in USF’s Negoesco Stadium, the men’s soccer team suffered a 2-1 loss to the Sacramento State Hornets. This was the first loss of the season for the Dons (2-1-0), who had a rough beginning in the non-conference game against the undefeated Hornets (3-0-1).
Green and gold fans rose to their feet chanting in the 32nd minute when senior midfielder Jonathan Levi strategically scored the first and only goal for the Dons with an assist from junior forward Bryan Burke. Levi took his second shot of the night from the “V,” bringing the Dons to a short-lived lead.
The Hornets quickly fired back with freshman Max Alvarez not four minutes later. Alvarez struggled in the box before finding an open window, bringing the score to 1-1. In the 39th minute Alvarez fired a shot 20 yards from the top of the box into the open goal, bringing the Hornets to the lead. This pair brought Alvarez to his fifth goal for the Hornets this season.
The first half was one of many upsets for the Dons and fans, as the Hornets gained the advantage due to a seemingly frazzled defensive end. USF head coach Erik Visser explained in an interview for usfdons.com, “”I give Sacramento State a lot of credit. We were sloppy in the first half. We gave up two goals on poor defending. I think we were agitated and we were out of synch and did not play our game.”
The Dons burst into the second half with strong offensive force, determined to once again take the lead. Visser said, “I think we dominated the second half, we hit the post twice”. In total the Dons outshot the Hornets 16-6, a number that dramatically grew in the second half when the Dons outshot the Hornets 11-2. Six of the Dons’ total shots were made by sophomore forward Felipe Cabrera, three were made by senior All-American Conor Chinn, and another three were made by Levi. Oscar Englund and Victor Wennberg each had an attempted shot, as Burke added 2 attempts to the Dons’ 16. Visser said, “I can’t fault the effort of our team, especially in the second half.” Despite the strong defensive power in the second half, the Dons were unable to score for the remainder of the game.
Franco Carotenuto (1-1-0), USF senior goalkeeper, suffered the loss for the Dons as the Hornets’ senior goalkeeper Ryan Kenny posted five saves. Seven corner kicks were made by the Dons, in comparison with just one made by the Hornets. Visser said in conclusion, “Our team battled hard, had some bad luck, but that’s the way the game goes.”
This week’s National Soccer Coaches Association of America/Adidas Far West region poll ranks USF as No. 15 nationally, as they were No. 5 in the NSCAA Far West region poll entering the game. The Hornets ranked No. 8 this week.
The Dons fire off again this Thursday, Sept. 17 when they host No. 10 Cal in the 2009 Bay Area Classic at Negoesco Stadium. The match is set for 7 p.m. against the Berkeley Bears.