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SDSU closes season with 4-0 win over UCLA

The+Aztecs+celebrate+the+third+goal+of+their+game+against+UCLA%2C+shot+by+senior+Winston+Sorhaitz+with+Jeroen+Meefout+on+the+assist+at+the+SDSU+Sports+Deck+on+Nov.+11%2C+2017.+
The Aztecs celebrate the third goal of their game against UCLA, shot by senior Winston Sorhaitz with Jeroen Meefout on the assist at the SDSU Sports Deck on Nov. 11, 2017.

The Aztecs celebrate the third goal of their game against UCLA, shot by senior Winston Sorhaitz with Jeroen Meefout on the assist at the SDSU Sports Deck on Nov. 11, 2017.

Photo by Mary York

Photo by Mary York

The Aztecs celebrate the third goal of their game against UCLA, shot by senior Winston Sorhaitz with Jeroen Meefout on the assist at the SDSU Sports Deck on Nov. 11, 2017.

by Mary York, Digital Sports Editor

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With four minutes left in the match, senior forward Jeroen Meefout raced the ball upfield towards the goal, just as he has been doing all season, just as he has done for the last three years at San Diego State.

And then he planted a firm kick that began inches from the grass and ended in the top left corner of the Bruins’ net.

Already up 3-0 to University of California, Los Angeles, the Aztecs did not need Meefout’s final goal to win the game – senior midfielder Dallin Cutler had already scored a pair in the first half and senior forward Winston Sorhaitz followed up with another goal in the second half, with assists from Meefout and senior midfielder Thom Van den Berg.

But for a team of seniors that entered the season with a mountain of expectations on their shoulders and left with a crushing 1-9-0 conference record, a thorough shutout of the Bruins was a sweet way to end a bitter season.

“It’s a mix of emotions because this season was really hard and the ball wasn’t bouncing our way,” goalkeeper Adam Allmaras said. “But it was a nice, bittersweet ending, especially against UCLA. It was really great to end on that and send the seniors off on a good note.”

Allmaras recorded five saves to win the game, 4-0.

SDSU head coach Lev Kirshner said the win was momentous for a team that has struggled so much all season.

“It was a year that we did not expect to happen and it was a very difficult year for us to go through with so many games that were tight, that could have gone a different direction and went against us one way or another,” he said. “There’s no love lost between us and UCLA. To get this done for the seniors on the home field on the last night was very important, very significant.”

Kirshner said this year’s seniors deserved a better season than they got.

“It’s just an amazing end to a great group of young men,” he said. “I told the team that I don’t know if I’ve had a finer group of a senior class as far as human beings. They’re great players, they were all part of the greatest team I ever had last year.”

Pressure may have had an impact on SDSU’s season, Cutler said.

“At the beginning of the season, everyone was so frantic because we were expected to be a lot better than last year’s team,” he said. “I think we got down on ourselves early in the PAC 12 season.”

Somewhere along the line, Cutler said, the team adopted a “can’t change the past” attitude and it made all the difference.

“We got together in the locker room before the game and the consensus was we were just going to go out there and have a good time, we didn’t have anything to lose,” he said. “Honestly, that was the most fun we’ve had all season. I think it stemmed from that. There was no stress, we all just went out and played for fun.”

Cutler, who hopes to continue playing soccer after he graduates, said this game was one of a kind.

“Everyone plays for these moments and we pulled it through,” he said.

Meefout, whose final goal was celebrated by the whole team swarming behind the goal post next to a fence holding back cheering fans, said he did not feel pressured to score in the second half.

“When it was 3-0, I was fine with it,” he said. “I really felt like this was our win, I didn’t feel like I had to score. These guys are my brothers and I’m so proud to be the captain of this team, I’m so proud of what we did.”

But, recording his eighth goal this season in those final moments of his college career, Meefout said, was certainly something he will always be grateful for.

“It’s nice to score, to get that feeling one more time,” he said. “You have to understand that even though I might play at the next level back home, it’s never going to be like this. These are my fans and these are my boys.”

Allmaras, Meefout and Cutler are all exploring options for continuing in the game after graduation, but each one said that these will always be the golden days of soccer for them.

“I feel like I’ve done everything I can to contribute to the team, I’m happy and I can move on,” Allmaras said. “But this will be the best of days. You can’t recreate this stuff.”

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