Aztecs still undefeated, win double overtime thriller versus Stanford

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Ivan Guzman

Freshman Alex Hjælmof (left) dribbles towards a Cardinal defender during a match against Stanford.

by Morgan Prickett, Staff Writer

No. 21 San Diego State Aztecs (6-0-2, 2-0-0) defeated the No. 23 Stanford Cardinal (2-3-1, 0-2-0) 1-0 Sunday afternoon in a double-overtime thriller at the SDSU Sports Deck.

The Aztecs entered the game off the back of a strong 2-0 win in their first Pac-12 matchup of the season against the University of California Berkeley. While the Cardinal entered the game in the opposite fashion, coming off a 2-0 loss at UCLA Thursday evening.

Sunday’s double-overtime win marked the Aztecs’ first victory over the Cardinal in almost a decade.

The Aztecs’ last win over the Cardinal — which ended in a similar 1-0 result — came on  Sept. 30, 2011.

Sunday’s game was a hard-fought battle from both sides. Neither team could break the deadlock in 90 minutes so overtime would be necessary to determine a winner.

Although SDSU football played in a triple-overtime thriller against the Utah Utes the night before. It felt like the football game carried over to the Sports Deck as the Aztecs and Cardinals combined for 39 fouls in the marathon game.

“Two guys who are in constant tussles played on yellows for 85 minutes,” head coach Ryan Hopkins said. “It just shows the maturity of this group, understanding the moments, mistakes, and not taking shortcuts when the ref gives you a yellow. You have to figure out how to play and adjust your game and our guys have done a phenomenal job of that.”

Despite the intense physicality of the game, only six yellow cards were handed out as both teams managed to keep their heads.

Four minutes into the first overtime, the Aztec fans thought they finally got their winner.

Aztec junior forward Austin Wehner danced with the ball at his feet towards the edge of the box and played a through ball to freshman forward Alex Hjælmof, who saw his shot come off the underside of the bar and back out into play.

The first overtime would end the same as the first 90 minutes: scoreless.

Yet the lone goal of the game wouldn’t come too long after.

After a well-defended Cardinal freekick in Aztec territory, the Aztecs bolted onto the counter-attack outnumbering the Cardinal defense.

The ball was played down the right into the path of Wehner who sprinted past his defender and into the right side of the box.

The crowd rose onto their feet as Wehner flashed a low cross across the face of the goal in what felt like slow motion.

As the ball made its way towards the back post, senior forward Tevenn Roux raced past the last Cardinal defender and smashed the ball into the back of the net.

Just one minute into double-overtime, the game had its winner. 

The crowd burst in delight as Roux and his teammates cleared the field and hopped into the stands to celebrate with the fans. 

“It felt really good (scoring the game-winner),” Roux said. “The whole team worked their butts off today to get the victory. The goal is just one little thing that happened today so I’ve got the team to thank and everyone who played today.”

This game marked the Aztecs’ seventh shutout in eight games this season including shutouts in all five home matches. SDSU has not trailed in a single game this entire season.

Coach Hopkins shared his thoughts on where he believes his defense’s energy comes from.

“It’s everybody, it’s the guys on the bench giving us energy, it’s the fun of the press,” Hopkins said. “You see how hard our forwards worked to be able to make those two runs to end the game. It just shows the heart and desire that these guys have.”

Sophomore goalkeeper Jacob Castro also continued his flying start to the season, adding seven saves to his season tally of 28, pulling ahead as the Pac-12s leader in saves. 

“Our first goal as a team is to keep a clean sheet and when we’re at our home field I feel like we bump our play up two times,” Castro said.

Hopkins believes SDSU has one of the best goalkeepers around. 

“I honestly think we have the best goalkeeper in the country,” Hopkins said. “Anything that does get through our defense, we have a cheat code in Castro so that gives us that little extra.”

In regards to his time so far at SDSU, Castro said:

“I feel like I’ve progressed a lot since I transferred here, everyone has welcomed me like a family and it’s been easy from there.”

The Aztecs’ next matchup comes against Gonzaga on Sept. 24th at 7 p.m. on the SDSU Sports Deck.

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