The men’s soccer team is on its way to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to compete in the NCAA Division II Semifinals after an exciting weekend in Azusa.
The Broncos headed to Azusa Pacific University on Thursday to compete against the Cougars for the West Regional Title.
Hundreds of energetic fans flooded the sidelines and cheered, as the intense match remained scoreless for the whole first half and a majority of the second.
CPP forward Gabriel Castillo broke the scoreless tie with five minutes remaining after receiving a back-heel pass from midfielder Eduardo Faria.
“I was telling Eduardo the whole match that I was hungry for a goal. The perfect time came when he took the defender, the defender followed him and he left me wide open,” Castillo said. “I am speechless and it is an unbelievable feeling to score that goal.”
The Broncos notched their third straight shutout of NCAA tournament with a final score of 1-0.
Students, alumni, friends and family rushed onto the field as the clock hit zero in celebration as the Broncos took home their third West Regional Title in the last four years and second in a row.
“[APU] is a good team, their front three put you under so much stress and we set up a little differently than normal as a result of it,” head coach Adam Reeves said. “It was kind of back and forth for the first 70 minutes or so. I thought at that time the game slowed down a little bit where we could go back to our normal look. I thought at that point we took control of the game for the last 20 minutes.”
The win advanced the Broncos to the NCAA Quarterfinals on Saturday night, also at APU.
“Ultimately this group’s goal every year is to train on Thanksgiving Day, and if we can train on Thanksgiving Day, then we’ve done something special and it means we are going to the Final Four,” Reeves said.
This year their goal has come true, as they will be spending their Thanksgiving training together after defeating West Texas A&M 2-0 and advancing to the NCAA Final Four.
Midfielder Cyro Oliveira put the Broncos ahead in the 43rd minute when he received a pass from Faria and buried it into the net. Less than one minute into the second half, Faria also made his way to the back of the net, making the final score 2-0.
Goalkeeper Jakob Hansen made two saves to keep West Texas from scoring and take home a fourth straight shutout in four NCAA games.
“We are one big family and I think that is all the credit for our success,” Hansen said. “We do everything for each other on the field and off the field. If we stay together, we know we are going to win every game and go all the way.”
The Broncos had a rough start to their season after losing 10 seniors to graduation and having to integrate several new players onto the team. After losing four of their first six games, the Broncos put it together to win nine straight games and rise to the top of the league standings. They entered the NCAA Division II tournament with a record of 13-6 and have gone on a run of four straight wins to make it to the Final Four.
“Before, people didn’t fear us and now it is a whole new idea just hearing ‘Cal Poly Pomona,’ it’s a whole (new) fear,” goalkeeper Skyler Gibbons-Stovall said. “Our culture dramatically changed over the years and I think that is the biggest attribute to our success. We’ve developed a great culture and it is not going to die anytime soon.”
The Broncos will have a week to prepare for the NCAA Semifinals, which will take place at Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh on Nov. 29.
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