Looking for a hot start to their 2012 season, the Cal State Fullerton men’s soccer team looked to play well in the Wilson Titan Classic this past weekend. Unfortunately for the Titans, both American University and Portland University came out of Fullerton with victories.
The Titans had the advantage of playing the Eagles of American University in Titan Stadium in the second game Friday evening of the season-opening tournament. American was still able to shut out CSUF and won by a score of 1-0.
Head Coach Bob Ammann felt his team completely outplayed the Eagles and deserved the victory.
“Against American, I thought we dominated in every area except for the score line,” Ammann said . “We had a freshman goalkeeper make a mistake and that was the deciding factor but in regards to our play, I was very pleased and very encouraged.”
Alassane Kane scored into an empty net in the 32nd minute. Cristobal Soto of AU elevated a long pass from near midfield that came down near the top of the box. Titan goalkeeper Adam Zepeda challenged Kane for the ball, but the collision left him on the ground as Kane kicked the ball into the empty net.
Senior defender Bobby Reiss, 21, felt encouraged and was glad that so many new players were able to see the pitch for the first time and get some game experience.
“I think we did alright against American, “said Reiss. “First half, we had five guys make their debut, haven’t played a college game yet in their career. First half, we got the bugs out but unfortunately we gave up a goal.”
CSUF had plenty of chances to score in the second half but were unable to equalize. Colin Okirie was denied by AU goalkeeper Billy Knutsen in the 53rd minute inside the box. Teammate Jameson Campbell was stopped off a rebound opportunity just five minutes later as Knutsen recovered to keep the Titans scoreless.
In agreeance with Ammann, senior defender Mario Alvarez, 22, felt the Titans were the better team against the Eagles.
“I think it was just unlucky, we were the better team out there in my eyes,” said Alvarez. “It’s one of those things that just happen. Hopefully, we get that unlucky game out of the way now in the beginning of the season. We still have a long season to go.”
Knutsen recorded a total of eight saves, including seven in the second half, when the Titans outshot the Eagles 12-6. CSUF had an 18-10 shot advantage for the game, led by Dyllan Stevens’ game-high five shots off the bench.
While CSUF played well against American, it was a completely different story against Portland University on Sunday afternoon and the scoreline reflected that. The Pilots trounced the Titans and came out with a 4-0 shutout victory.
There was a 45 minute delay to the start of the game as a result of some referees not arriving on time. Ammann let his displeasure be known with the way this affected his team.
“It started off on a bad note, referees didn’t show up,” Ammann said. “We’re a team that relies on our rhythm and our rhythm was never really established with the warm up and the team’s poor start as well.”
The Pilots unleashed a total of 22 shots on the afternoon, to the Titans lowly total of just 11. Portland wasted no time against CSUF, scoring twice in the first 15 minutes of the first half. Colin Anderson started off the goal melee in the 12th minute after a foul was called against the Titans at the top of the six-yard box. Anderson didn’t waste his free kick opportunity as he blasted the ball off the crossbar for the early 1-0 lead.
After a Titans turnover in the 15th minute, Steven Evans made the score 2-0 after his shot to the right post went by Titans freshman goalkeeper Adam Zepeda. Portland scored once more in the 41st minute after the ball got lost in a scrum in front of the net. Ben Hemphill got it through multiple defenders to make the score 3-0 and end a dominating first half for the Pilots.
Alvarez stated the early hot start for the Pilots took the Titans by surprise and had them scrambling for the rest of the first half.
“At the beginning, those two early goals are something you don’t really plan for. It’s hard to come back from two early goals in the first 15 minutes,” Alvarez said.
In the second half, the Titans played much better on both sides of the ball but still conceded a 4th goal in the 56th minute. They were whistled for a handball in the box and Evans scored on a penalty kick for his second goal of the game.
The Titans are now 0-2 to start the season. They look to get on the winning track against Cornell University on Aug. 31 at 7:00 p.m. at Titan Stadium.