By Caleb Nguyen, Oct. 4, 2022
On Sept. 30, the Cal Poly Pomona men’s soccer team travelled to Chico State and shut the Wildcats out by a score of 2-0. In a strong effort on both sides of the ball, the Broncos earned their seventh victory of the season and have only lost one of their first 10 matches, improving to a 3-1 away record.
Against a tough Chico State crowd, head coach Matt O’Sullivan mentioned a collective team effort to remain calm and get the job done.
“I thought the bench energy was fantastic. Early on, it was quite tight, and we scored at quite a crucial time in the first half. When we put the second in, it was quite calming. I thought we could’ve scored three or four, but defensively we were very, very good and hard to break down. Overall, a good squad performance,” said O’Sullivan.
The first scoring threat of the game emerged in the fifth minute as the Broncos won a corner kick off a nice run of play. Off the set piece, midfielder Woody Angell shot and forced another corner after the ball went out of play.
After two more shots sprayed wide in the seventh and ninth minutes from defender Jasper Winslow and midfielder Harrison Cliff, the Broncos did not have another scoring chance until the 21st minute.
CPP had a strong chance to capitalize off another corner, but the scoring attempt closed as Angell shot once more, only to be saved by Chico State keeper Luis Albarran.
In the 39th minute, Chico State pushed into the Bronco defense, leading to a shot on target. Bronco goalie CJ Walker saved the effort and kept the contest a scoreless tie close to halftime.
Minutes later, the referee refused to call a foul after a Wildcat fell down near the penalty box, with the Chico home crowd collectively groaning in disgust. Unfazed and continuing to play on, the Broncos seized this opportunity to take a halftime lead.
A run into the Wildcats’ defense from midfielder Sam Lena led to him crossing the ball into a dangerous area, waiting to be scored. Midfielder Mikey Sedano obliged, heading home the cross to give the Broncos a 1-0 lead in the 44th minute.
Sedano spoke on the play that led to his third goal of the season at a crucial point in the match against a division rival.
“It was a grindy game already, so we knew we had to score at any opportunity. It was a great cross and a good finish. The preparation for these games isn’t just the day before; It’s weeks of details and game plans and our process that we follow, and it all helps lead us to a victory,” said Sedano.
With seven shots compared to the Wildcats’ four, the Broncos went into halftime with a 1-0 lead in a physical first half highlighted by many aerial challenges on the ball.
Out of the halftime break, the Broncos continued to pepper shots on Chico’s side of the field, tallying three in the first 15 minutes. All three of these shots by forward Jerry Ramirez reinforced CPP’s attacking mindset despite none of the efforts resulting in a second score.
After defender Thomas Guei’s shot in the 65th forced Albarran’s second save of the game, the Broncos were on the cusp of a decisive margin to close the game out.
Another run deep into the midfield from Lena left him open in space, freeing up an opportunity to shoot. Albarran was unable to corral the shot into his arms and Lena would take credit for the Broncos’ second and final goal of the match.
Involved in both Bronco goals on the night, Lena mentioned his creativity as a point of pride for his play style.
“I always love being creative whether that’s for my teammates or myself. I often try to dribble inside to get to the goal but if that’s not available, I try to cut back if I’m on the right or dribble down the line and get a cross off to someone, and hopefully they can put it in the back of the net like Mikey did today,” said Lena.
The Wildcats picked up their pace in the final 20 minutes as Chico State looked to rally back from their two-goal deficit in front of their home fans.
Earning a corner kick in the 75th minute, the Wildcats delivered a ball into the box, but the Bronco defense held strong and cleared the danger away from goal like they had done all night.
O’Sullivan cited the importance of his defensive players getting back to their solid play in a complete team win.
“A lot of it comes down to not making mistakes. We kind of gave some opportunities to the opposition in the last few matches. I told them to make them earn it today. I’m very proud of us. Everyone worked really hard,” said O’Sullivan.
The final 15 minutes of the game saw no real threat on goal for either side. The referee showed two Wildcat players yellow cards in the final two minutes of play in an ultimately frustrating night for Chico State.
The visitors took one last free kick in the 90th minute. The referee blew for full time, ending the match with a final of 2-0 for CPP, their second straight win.
The Broncos will look to continue this run of form in their next matchup on the road against Cal State San Bernardino on Thursday, Oct. 6. This match can be livestreamed via the California Collegiate Athletic Association Network and BroncoAthletics websites.
Feature image courtesy of CPP Athletics
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