CSUF men’s soccer falls 2-1 to Pacific in first round of NCAA tournament

In Sports
(Bailey Carpenter / Daily Titan File Photo)

STOCKTON, Calif. – The Titans accepted the end of their 2017-18 season by falling to the ground on the wet pitch they had just battled on for 90 minutes. Their journey in the 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Tournament was over after just one round with a 2-1 loss against University of the Pacific.

Despite the combination of rain and defeat that he and his team were in the midst of, Titans Head Coach George Kuntz was still looking on the bright side following the loss.

“This is a huge building block for us. Some people didn’t expect us to get here. For these guys to turn around our season and get to this point,” Kuntz said. “I told them it’s definitely a building block for our future.”

CSUF goalkeeper Paul-Andre Guerin was put to work early on in the match with three shots from the Pacific Tigers in the ninth minute.

Halfway into the first half, obvious frustration was seen from Fullerton’s bench, both coaches voicing for their team to pick up their game.

Unlike their opponents, the Tigers controlled the game, maintaining possession and leading in shots, racking up seven to Fullerton’s two. To the Tigers disappointment, an offside call in the 33rd minute revoked what would have been the first goal of the night, and their lead in the game.

CSUF totaled three substitutions in the first half of the game in search of an offensive surge, but the Titans’ lack of energy ensured the first frame ended with no scores at Knoles Field.

The figurative downpour started for the Titans after the team returned from halftime when the Tigers made their way onto the scoreboard with a goal from forward Bob Groenendijk only nine minutes into the second half of the game.

The Titans picked up their game after the goal, totaling eight shots in the second half, but with only six minutes left in the game, Tigers forward Spencer Vue put the Tigers up 2-0 and seemed to have sealed the game.

However, the Titans quickly answered back with a goal two minutes later from forward Bass Sarr, a goal he credited to his teammates’ efforts to set him up on and off the field all year.

“They make it easy for me,” Sarr said. “I came here and I found family and brothers in the team, and they make me feel more comfortable. They make me feel like I’m home.”

Unfortunately for the Titans, Sarr’s goal wasn’t enough, and their season came to an end with no time left in regulation to tie the match.

“We just need to work hard every single day. Day in and day out, it’s not over yet,” Sarr said.

With matches for January and the Spring season already set, Kuntz is optimistic about next season and feels that the young roster will be ready to improve upon its achievements of 2017.

“We’ll just build on this. It’s a great starting point for next year,” Kuntz said.

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