CSUF men’s soccer wins Big West Championship and moves on to NCAA tournament

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(Photo Courtesy of Cal State Fullerton Sports Media)

CSUF men’s soccer finally found the redemption the program was searching for all season: A Big West title.

“Last year we lost in the last minute and it was really frustrating. So I think it was a big thing for us to win,” said Titans goalie Paul-Andre Guerin.

After losing the 2016 Big West Championship in double overtime, CSUF raised the cup this time around after defeating the UC Davis Aggies in a heated match that forced the teams into penalty kicks.

“I’m very proud of this team. They have worked extremely hard. We’ve gone through some tremendous adversity this season,” Titans Head Coach George Kuntz told Cal State Fullerton Sports Media.

The match began aggressively as the Aggies pocketed the first yellow card in the seventh minute. Davis didn’t stop there, earning the only three yellow cards that were handed out in regulation.

Both teams were nearly even in shots, with the Titans taking 12 overall while the Aggies attempted 10, but strong defensive plays on both ends of the pitch kept the match 0-0.

Despite the early aggressiveness, Guerin kept the Aggies out of the net for 90 minutes, saving all attempted shots on goal in both periods and earning the MVP award for the title game.

Guerin’s efforts did not go unnoticed by his opponents. UC Davis Head Coach Dwayne Shaffer said that his oldest brother, who was previously a goalkeeper, described Guerin’s saves, as “world class” after the game.

“To have three in one game, that was the difference. One of those go in and I know we win that game,” Shaffer said.

With none of their shots making it into the net, the Titans and the Aggies both had a chance at a golden goal as the match went into overtime.

This year, the Titans avoided being on the wrong end of a game winner, but both teams went scoreless in extra time and left the cup to be decided by penalty kicks.

The Titans substituted Guerin for Alfredo Cortez to guard the net as Guerin suited up to take his own shot at a penalty.

Both teams started off neck and neck as the first three shots by the Aggies and the Titans made it to the back of the net, but a missed shot by Davis’ Adam Mickelson gave Fullerton a chance at a lead that Samuel Goni happily took, giving the Titans a 4-3 advantage.

A heroic save by Cortez in the Aggies’ final attempt at a comeback allowed CSUF to bring another Big West Championship back to Fullerton.

The title doesn’t end what has been a rollercoaster of a season for the Titans, as the win ensured that they will travel back home and prepare for their first game of the NCAA tournament.

“I can’t describe how happy I am to win this year with these amazing teammates. We work hard for each other and we’re not surprised that we’re here because we deserve to be here,” Goni said. “This is the first step. Our next goal is to go as far as we can in the NCAA.”

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