Men’s Soccer wins first game of the season with 2-0 win over Matadors

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Midfielder Andre Ochoa (right) knocks a ball away against Point Loma

by Marco Perez and Adam Correa

The San Diego State men’s soccer team (1-0-0) earned its first win of the season Thursday night, defeating the Cal State Northridge Matadors (0-1-0) at the Aztec Sports Deck. The Aztecs scored two goals in the final eight minutes of the match to give them a 2-0 victory.

Freshman forward Alex Hjælmof converted a penalty kick in the 82nd minute and assisted team captain sophomore midfielder Andre Ochoa’s goal six minutes later. 

Head coach Ryan Hopkins said he was pleased with how his team played. 

“Really good team win,” Hopkins said after the game. “There were stretches where we weren’t at our best and that’s to be expected in our first game, but we found a way to win. I think that’s going to be a trademark of this team. We stuck to our principles. We got a clean sheet, which is a big part of what we do.”

Junior defender Kyle Colonna played at the center of the Aztec defense and helped keep the CSUN attack at bay to earn a shutout.

“He’s just a warrior,” Hopkins said of Colonna. “The guy wants to defend, he’s a mammoth in the air. His communication is getting really good and he is very coachable. He’s a great influence on the guys. We’re really thrilled with his progress and really excited for the rest of the year.”

Neither team had clear goal-scoring chances in the first half, combining for just five shots total. Both teams were looking to play direct balls over the top to forwards, but both defenses were up to the task and kept the game in front of them. 

The Aztecs got the first good chance of the second half in the 57th minute, when freshman midfielder Donovan Roux picked up the ball around midfield and made a run at the CSUN defense. From the left side, he cut the ball onto his right foot at the top of the box and fired a shot at the goal. CSUN junior goalkeeper David Preys made a diving save to keep the Aztecs out of the net. 

SDSU would get another goal-scoring chance in the 76th minute. Nishikawa found himself in space on the attack on the left side. He cut into the middle and fired a shot from 25 yards that looked to be going into the top right corner, but Preys made another diving save to keep SDSU off the scoreboard

The Aztecs got their next chance in the 82nd minute when Santos’ through ball found Hjælmof’s run into the box. Hjælmof got to the ball first but his defender was late and his tackle resulted in a penalty kick for the Aztecs. Hjælmof stepped up to take the kick and slotted his shot in the bottom right-hand corner, past the outstretched hand of Preys to make it 1-0. 

Six minutes later, the ball was cleared from the Aztec box and found Hjælmof at midfield. He passed the ball into the path of Ochoa run and Ochoa found himself running at the CSUN backline. With options to his left and right, Ochoa passed the ball to Hjælmof on his right, who got the defense to commit before playing a negative ball back to Ochoa to slot into the far post.

“Dre (Ochoa) is an extremely good player,” Hjælmof said. “I know his traits and how good he is on the ball. There was no doubt in my mind that he had to get that ball so he could put it in and put the game to bed.”

In two games with the Aztecs, (including the exhibition match against Point Loma) Hjælmof has recorded three goals and an assist. 

Hjælmof is not a natural striker, but rather a natural midfielder.  While he is still getting used to his new role, SDSU’s talent has made the transition smooth.

“It’s nice to play with people that are so good behind you,” Hjælmof said. “Dre and Dono (Roux) and all the other guys do an extremely good job making a lot of good runs, not necessarily to get the ball, but to make space. It gives me a feeling of comfort, making the runs up top knowing that it will create space for me or create space for the guys behind me.”

The Aztecs’ next two games will be away at number 17 ranked Loyola Marymount on Monday Aug. 30 and Cal Poly on Friday Sept. 3.