|SSU menís rally on pitch falls short
Down by two goals with 15 minutes to play in regulation, Sonoma State University’s men’s soccer team stepped up the pressure on the Grand Canyon defense.
The Seawolves peppered the goal with eight shot attempts, including three in the final two and a half minutes, but only Kelly Davila would find the net as the Antelopes held strong to defeat the Seawolves, 2-1, on a 100-degree Sunday night at the GCU Soccer Field in Phoenix, Ariz.
SSU falls to 1-1-0 this season, heading into California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) play next weekend, while GCU remains undefeated at 2-0-0.
“This was a tough game and we played very well for the first 25 minutes,” head coach Marcus Ziemer said. “We hit two shots off the cross bar and thought we should have had a couple other goals, but we gave into the heat later. We kicked off at 8:45 p.m. and it was still 102 (degrees), so we dragged a bit at the end of the half and gave up a goal (at 33:53).”
It was a strike from Grand Canyon's Saeed Robinson in the 34th minute that put Sonoma State at a 1-0 disadvantage. However, the Seawolves played almost step-for-step with the Antelopes as the shots were just about even -- 10-9 in favor of GCU -- in the first 45 minutes of play.
“However, we came out in the second half and played our hearts out,” Ziemer added. "We hit the cross bar twice and again thought we had a couple other chances, but we just kept pushing.”
Taylor Varnadore led all players with seven shots, including two header attempts in the first seven minutes of the second half. Play would go back and forth until Robinson found the back of the net again, this time at 64:51 to put Grand Canyon up 2-0.
With the two-goal deficit, SSU picked up its momentum offensively. Ten of the Seawolves' 22 shots in the match came in the final 17 minutes of regulation, but only Davila would be successful with his first goal of the season (and his seventh of his career) at the 84:58 mark after taking control of a rebound by a blocked Varnadore shot in the goal box.
Two and a half minutes later, Aaron Glover fired a shot that bounced off a defender and past the end line to induce a corner kick. Brenton Frame served the corner kick and found Cam Leaver, but Leaver's shot would miss high. The Seawolves would find one more opportunity with just seconds left on the clock, but Davila's header attempt sailed wide, ending the comeback bid.
“We finally scored a goal (late in regulation), and even still had a few chances in the last two minutes,” said Ziemer. “We never quit. (Grand Canyon) is very good, but we outplayed them for most of the game. With eight international players and three Arizona kids, they are very experienced, so I'm real proud of our boys.
“This is a tough, tough loss, and I think (the guys) would have been happy with a draw, but we'll bounce back. We just need to regroup, and get ready for next weekend. We're a little banged up, but we'll come home (Monday morning), heal up and be ready to play (at Cal State Monterey Bay) on Friday.”