By Daniel Duque and Ricardo Martir, Sept. 12, 2023
After a goalless draw against Biola University in their season opener, Cal Poly Pomona’s men’s soccer team came back in dominating fashion, recording its first preseason win against Point Loma Nazarene University Saturday, Sept. 3.
Head coach Matt O’Sullivan expressed his satisfaction with his team’s performance and assured the Broncos have a good future ahead of them.
“We got rattled on a silly goal to give away,” O’Sullivan said. “That first goal settled us down, and then we started to play a little bit better.”
At the start of the game, the Broncos defensive line pressed high up the field, allowing Point Loma to counterattack. In the pursuing fight for possession, the Broncos mistakenly scored an own goal.
Goalkeeper Sucre Herrera, who transferred to CPP from California State University Bakersfield over the summer, made his debut for the Broncos in the ninth minute, subbing in for starting goalie Luke Garcidueñas after Point Loma’s opening goal.
Just one minute later, the Broncos evened the score as forward Melvin Leon scored the first goal of the season for CPP.
After equalizing, the Broncos defense fell back, as the team focused on preventing Point Loma from penetrating the final third. The remainder of the first half proved to be a stalemate. Neither team could secure any clear scoring opportunities.
While the remainder of the first half was uneventful when it came to goals, it was full of cautions with referee Jared Kennedy dishing out five yellow cards, four of which were against Point Loma.
Forward Paul Roger Henschke led the way for the Broncos in a dominant second half, which included a goal and two assists.
Following a defensive corner kick, the Broncos launched a strong counterattack led by Henschke who drew the attention of four Point Loma defenders, leaving forward Mads Frederiksen open in the box for a straightforward shot. Henschke crossed, and Frederiksen scored, putting CPP up 2-1.
The Broncos continued pushing past Point Loma’s defense with forward Sam Lena scoring a third goal for the Broncos just two minutes later.
Point Loma desperately tried to disrupt CPP’s offense, racking up four more yellow cards for reckless tackles. Despite Point Loma’s aggressiveness, Frederiksen found a fourth goal in the 58th minute.
Point Loma cut into CPP’s lead with a successful penalty kick in the 67th minute, but the Broncos answered two minutes later when Henschke made the score 5-2 thanks to an assist from Leon.
The Broncos continued creating opportunities to increase their lead. In the 75th minute, Point Loma goalkeeper Finn Simmersbach saved a shot from Bronco midfielder Mike Moser and a minute later the referee called offside on CPP, recalling what would have been the Broncos’ sixth goal of the night.
In the 88th minute, Point Loma scored again, but it was too late. Herrera was a standout, with six saves throughout the game, contributing to a 5-3 win for CPP.
“The key to the game was the maturity to not chase the ball and work hard in moments under stress,” O’Sullivan said. “I knew at half time when we got in, we can organize differently. We pressed them differently in the second half, and it worked. We got two or three transition moments, and we scored on both.”
Henschke, who was a key player to lead the Broncos’ offensive game, was proud of his performance, but he also gave credit to the entire team for the achievement.
“I’m happy that I could help the team with some assists and a goal, but obviously it is not about me,” Henchske said. “There are so many good guys around me, and it is so much fun to play for us.”
Despite the good performance, Henschke stressed conceding goals is a problem the Broncos have to fix for their future games.
The Broncos traveled to Golden, Colorado, to take on the Colorado School of Mines Orediggers in their first away game of the season Friday, Sept. 8, a match that ultimately ended in a 1-1 draw.
Feature image courtesy of CPP Athletics
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