The 2017 season was a rollercoaster for the Cal State Fullerton men’s soccer team, but it made it to the Big West semifinals once again. CSUF faced numerous challenges ranging from injuries to red cards that forced them to adapt its roster.
But as the Titans rediscovered their chemistry on the field and began to bond with one another, the goals and the wins started flowing again, and now they sit in the top seed and hold the Big West southern division title.
CSUF has taken a little extra time to perfect its plays before they head into their Nov. 4 match, as it could be the last time they step into Titan Stadium until 2018.
Team captain Nicolo D’Amato said the Titans’ quest for an All-Conference title is fueled by the team’s feeling that they aren’t ready to get off the pitch just yet.
“I think everyone realizes what’s at stake here: We win, we go on. We lose, we go home, and it’s done for us,” D’Amato said. “I don’t think anyone is ready to be done yet.”
Although CSUF will take on the UC Riverside Highlanders in the semifinals, Titans forward Samuel Goni said the Titans weren’t worrying over which opponent they were set to face.
“I think everyone is looking forward to Saturday’s game,” Goni said before the team’s opponent was determined Wednesday night. “We lost to both teams so we want our revenge against both.”
The Titans will face UCR for the third time since the start of conference play. In its two previous matches against the Highlanders, Fullerton was unable to come away with a win, losing 2-1 in its first match and ending in a 1-1 draw in the second.
But CSUF has some tactics it believes will work against any team and help it earn a spot in the Big West Championship match.
“We need to take hold of the game earlier,” said Titans forward Bass Sarr. “We need to be unpredictable.”
Besides hoping to pocket a few goals to clinch the match early, the Titans also hope Fullerton fans will turn up to support them Saturday night.
The entire season, the Titans’ stands have been almost empty, something Titans Head Coach George Kuntz said has an effect on the team, but could also have a huge impact on the result of the match if the trend reverses.
“The guys are very excited to play the Big West tournament at home. We’re really hoping for a fanbase,” Kuntz said. “It’s like having a 12th player. When you have the crowd behind you, you’re much more motivated as a player. You feel the support. You feel the love and you want to do better for your home side.”
Despite their unpredictability throughout the season, just by making it this far, the Titans have reached one of their goals.
“It’s what I’ve been playing for these last three years. It’s the games we want to have at the end of the year and we’re here now, so we have to make it count,” D’Amato said.