Gators lose on unfamilar home field
October 30, 2010 1:50 PM
The Sonoma State Seawolves came to San Francisco with the energy to win. The SF State Gators had that same energy throughout the majority of the match, but took a misstep early in the second half on Oct. 29.
Whether it was the artificial turf or the fact that Sonoma needed the win, the Seawolves came out running with the soccer ball unimpeded by nature. In the end, they earned a 2-1 victory over the Gators, who were playing on unfamiliar territory at Crocker-Amazon Park due to the rain.
"We're used to our field," said senior defender Charles Conway. "It's tough. The game is much faster and the ball moves quicker on the turf."
But that didn't stop the Gators from giving the Seawolves a challenge during the first half of the game.
The Gators started the game with a swift push towards the Seawolves, outshooting them in the first half 8-5.
In the first ten minutes, one of those shots connected when Conway, rushing forward on a throw-in by junior Malcolm Linton and a pass by sophomore Sasha Chalak, headed the ball past the goalkeeper.
The remainder of the half played out in waves of back-and-forth ball control and possession as the spectators watched on eagerly.
Even as sophomore Edgar Villagrana made two attempts for goals, the Gators didn't get the opportunity to ensure their lead. Villagrana's first attempt was kicked out by Sonoma goalkeeper Juan Sosa at the last moment. The second attempt was a shot that hit the crossbar -- knocking the ball straight down -- and allowed Sosa to grab the ball and throw it out.
The Sonoma State spectators were especially on-edge because the Seawolves were playing for a playoff spot in the top six in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.
Just like the previous match against the Seawolves on their home field, the Sonoma spectators harassed Conway from the aluminum stands.
"They were playing for the playoff spot," sophomore goalkeeper Michael McNeill said. "They win, they're in. They lose, they're out. They were going for that winning season."
When the second half rolled around, the Seawolves came out with more energy than the Gators.
"We played the first half well," McNeill said. "I thought we played well except for those 10-15 minutes. We clicked off and we couldn't match their energy."
In the first ten minutes of the second half, the Seawolves tied the game when they scored a goal past the tired Gator defense and over McNeill's hands.
The second goal came minutes later as the Seawolves set up their play and displaced the defenders, allowing Sonoma midfielder Kelly Davila to score with a shot to the upper left corner of the goal.
"If you don't play 90 minutes, you don't win," said head coach Joe Hunter. "This late in the season, we're struggling with game maturity. It's about games, not moments."
The Gators got their second win after Sonoma's unanswered goals, but as the game got more physical, they were unable to tie the game or regain their momentum from the first half.
"We let it get away," McNeill said.
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