Despite being forced to play down a man in its match against Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton men’s soccer came out on top, taking down the Mustangs in a 1-0 victory Saturday.
“It shows that we have heart. We have resilience, and we can compete even if we have 10 guys,” Titans midfielder Diego Sanchez told Cal State Fullerton Sports Media.
The Mustangs held a five-game winning streak heading into the match but weren’t able to penetrate Titans’ defense.
The Titans started off aggressively, with Titans midfielder Mark Hernandez attempting their first shot on goal in the second minute.
Seven fouls were called in the first 20 minutes of the game, but it was at the eighth blow of the whistle when the Titans found their chance to put themselves on the scoreboard.
Sanchez pocketed his first goal of the season off a penalty kick in the 25th minute to give the Titans a 1-0 lead.
Titans defender Michael Lopez had a physical start in the first half, which earned him the first yellow card of the match in the 33rd minute. Three minutes later, Lopez was sent off the field with a red card, leaving CSUF with only 10 men on the pitch for the rest of the match.
The deficit on the field left the Titans scrambling to fill the holes in their starting lineup, but CSUF’s defense held off the Mustangs for the remainder of the match, despite Cal Poly taking more than double the Titans’ shot attempts with 14.
“I think it just shows guts that we have. The second half we were just defending almost the whole entire time we had a man down,” said Titans defender Sam Molz. “It was a great team performance.”
The Titans were more quiet on the field, attempting just five shots the entire game, only three of which were on goal.
Cal Poly may have dominated the Titans in shot attempts, but couldn’t beat CSUF in the only shot-related statistic that matters: Goals. The Mustangs nearly tied the game in the 74th minute when Mustangs forward Sean Goode fired at an open net but Molz was able to make the heroic save, sliding in just in time to deflect the shot.
“We knew we were gonna need plays like that from defenders and from goalkeepers,” said Titans Head Coach George Kuntz. “I thought it was an outstanding job by our guys, a great defensive effort.”
Fullerton goalie Paul-Andre Guerin kept all opposing shots out of the net for the second time this season. He was also awarded his first yellow card after spending too much time with the ball as the game neared completion.
The Titans will look to build a winning streak as they continue their conference schedule when they face UC Davis Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. at Titan Stadium.