Cal Bears claw past Aztecs in Berkeley

Kristian Carreon, Senior Staff Photographer

by Patrick Carr, Staff Writer

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The young, talented San Diego State men’s soccer team is finding life in the Pac-12 conference more difficult each time they step out on the pitch. The Aztecs’ weekend trip to the Bay Area might show that.

But after two gut-check, shutout losses to start the conference season SDSU nearly managed to upset No. 22 University of California, Berkeley on the road, despite playing with 10 men for most of the second half. But a late goal condemned the Aztecs to a 4-3 loss.

SDSU’s showing might’ve been one of the most efficient offensive performances of the season with the Aztecs scoring their three goals off just five shots on target.

The Aztecs started fast, which was reminiscent of their early-season success. Freshman midfielder Jeff Rhodes notched his third goal of the year with an impressive volley inside the penalty box in the 11th minute.

The Bears immediately went on the offensive, creating two good chances before the 21st minute when sophomore midfielder Christian Thierjung’s pass found senior forward Stefano Bonomo. Bonomo’s low shot skidded past Aztec redshirt freshman keeper Adam Allmaras and tied the game at 1-1.

Cal scored another goal exactly on 32 minutes for a 2-1 lead. Senior forward Omid Jalali one-timed redshirt freshman midfielder Matt Chasman’s excellent cross.

Chasman got on the scoresheet three minutes later in the 36th minute with a little bit of luck. Freshman midfielder Eloi Vasquez picked out Chasman, and Chasman’s shot ricocheted in off the far post for a 3-1 Bears lead.

SDSU came into the match having not won on the road or in the conference. The Aztecs started the second half determined to erase both of those losing streaks.

In the 49th minute, freshman midfielder Kevin Baboyian cut the deficit to one with his first career goal when he streaked past two defenders and cracked a shot from outside the area that flew into the top corner.

But three minutes later, it looked like the comeback was off after freshman midfielder Brady Blackwell was shown a straight red card for a late challenge, leaving SDSU a man down while still down one goal on the road against the No. 22 team in the nation.

And just like the script would read, the Aztecs improbably tied the match 3-3 in the 76th minute. Sophomore midfielder Casey Macias was first to a loose ball, and shot low to score his first career goal.

However, it was not meant to be as five minutes later, Cal took the lead for good after freshman forward Paul Salcedo’s close-range effort after sophomore defender Nick Lima had raced down the sideline and crossed to Salcedo.

SDSU now sits at 6-6 and has a chance for its first conference win at 7 p.m. on Thursday against Oregon State University at the SDSU Sports Deck.

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