By Ryan Maquiñana
Special to S.F. Examiner
The San Francisco Glens of USL League Two are proud to partner with the Examiner in covering local high school and college soccer.
The San Francisco State men’s soccer team quickly turned its CCAA quarterfinal with host UC San Diego into a shootout, but ultimately ran out of ammunition in a 4-2 defeat.
Entering the conference playoffs as the lowest seed against a UCSD side (14-4) that had blasted them 5-1 in the regular season, the Gators were heavy underdogs, especially since the game was slated for Tritons’ home field.
First-year head coach Pedro Osorio was unfazed. Taking over a program that his predecessor and former boss Javier Ayala-Hil had taken to the postseason two years in a row, the former assistant coach guided the Gators to their third consecutive berth thanks to some bold decisions. He made another one before the game against the Tritons: inserting freshman forward Julio González Ponce in the starting lineup.
In the ninth minute, the Mission High School and SF Glens product delivered, bending a shot from well outside the box that floated over the defense’s heads and into the back of the net to give SF State the 1-0 lead.
UCSD forward Brett Jones answered nine minutes later, but the Gators’ attack was relentless. After a Tritons foul in the box, senior SF State captain Jonny Orozco buried the ball from the 12-yard marker to give the Gators a 2-1 advantage.
However, the Tritons’ resilience would be a recurring theme, and just seconds later, Jones again slipped by the SF State back line to level the contest again, this time at 2-2.
With the first half winding down, a streaking Orozco appeared to haul in a long ball in the box and coolly finish to retake the lead for SF State, but the referee annulled the goal, ruling that Orozco had used his arm to knock the ball down to his feet.
The captain’s protest fell on deaf ears, and though the half ended 2-2, the Gators’ offense failed to recover the same rhythm after intermission. In the 63rd minute, UCSD would take the lead for good after Jonathan Sabouri scored on a Cooper Lachenbruch assist. The Tritons would add an insurance goal five minutes later from Lachenbruch.
While SF State (10-7-0) saw its season come to a close, the future is promising. Seniors Orozco and Richard Leon will depart, but the attacking core of González Ponce, Seiya Otsuka and Ramiro Palencia all return, as do midfielder Adrian Medina and defender Kasper Tindbaek.
USF FINISHES TRANSITION YEAR
It might not show up in the win-loss column, but the University of San Francisco men’s soccer team improved mightily down the home stretch of the season under first-year head coach Leonard Griffin.
Three of the Dons’ last four defeats heading into the season finale were 1-0 losses, and in one of those games, they impressively held No. 12 St. Mary’s scoreless at the Hilltop for the final 88 minutes of the match.
San Francisco (2-13-1, 0-6 WCC) uncovered some building blocks for their foundation going forward, including junior defender Shayan Charalaghi, who came off the back line to tie sophomore midfielder Ashish Chattha and graduate transfer forward Jonah Van Der Werf for the team lead in goals (2).
CAL SHOCKS STANFORD AGAIN
Unranked Cal (8-6-3) approached last Thursday night’s renewal of The Big Clasico at Stanford’s Cagan Stadium with the goal of repeating its upset of a year ago. Mission accomplished, as the Golden Bears relied on a Tommy Williamson penalty kick and some stingy defense to shock the No. 4 Cardinal, 1-0.
The Bears’ back line was the story, as junior C.J. Grey and sophomore J.J. Foe Nuphaus stopped a potent Stanford attack led by sophomore Zach Ryan and freshman sensation Ousseni Bouda. Cal goalkeeper Drake Callender, whose professional rights were recently traded from the San Jose Earthquakes to Major League Soccer expansion club Inter Miami CF, preserved his sixth clean sheet of the season with steady play in front of net.
The Bears concluded their season on a positive note by extinguishing their archrivals’ fleeting Pac-12 title hopes. Meanwhile, the Cardinal (13-2-3) will likely earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
UC DAVIS EDGES UCSB FOR BIG WEST TITLE
Nabi Kibunguchy’s banner year continues. After earning USL League Two All-Western Conference honors with the SF Glens this past summer, he can now add Big West Tournament champion to his accolades, as UC Davis (13-4-2) downed UC Santa Barbara 2-0 in the title game on Friday afternoon.
Following a scoreless first half, the host Aggies pulled ahead in the 55th minute thanks to a goal from sophomore midfielder Andy Velasquez. But the Gauchos (12-3-4) refused to fold, and in the final minute of regulation, UCSB had the ball in the box in prime position to score.
However, Kibunguchy stepped in front with a sliding tackle to poke the ball out of danger. Moments later, the Aggies would seal the result with a late score from Kristian Heptner.
The triumph not only gave UC Davis their first conference tournament championship in program history, but also an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, which begins on Tuesday.
Ryan Maquiñana is the Director of Communications for the San Francisco Glens.