Men’s Soccer hold onto early lead, defeat Gonzaga 2-0 to stay undefeated

Laukoa+Santos+after+scoring+SDSUs+first+goal+against+Gonzaga+%28Courtesy+of+SDSU+Athletics%29.

SDSU Athletics

Laukoa Santos celebrates after scoring SDSU’s first goal against Gonzaga (Courtesy of SDSU Athletics).

by Davis Ramage, Contributor

The No. 14 San Diego State Aztecs (7-0-2, 2-0-0) defeated the unranked Gonzaga Bulldogs (5-4) 2-0 with goals from senior midfielder Laukoa Santos and sophomore midfielder Andre Ochoa at the SDSU Sports Deck. 

The Aztecs got off to a flying start as Santos netted a ball that fell right to his feet off a deflection in the third minute. A little over two minutes later, team captain Andre Ochoa finished a deflection off the Bulldog goalkeeper to put the Aztecs up 2-0 early. Senior forward Tevenn Roux was credited with both assists. 

“It felt good (scoring so early), we’ve been having pretty good starts recently,” Santos said. “It felt good to get on the score sheet again, it’s been since UNLV my sophomore year.”

This win keeps the Aztecs undefeated and gives them their fifth win in a row, all being shutouts. The loss for the Bulldogs is their first time being shut out all year and can be attributed to the high press defense employed by head coach Ryan Hopkins. 

The Aztecs allowed zero shots in the first half, and when Hopkins described the effort that went into achieving this. 

“I attribute it to the whole team,” Hopkins said. “You can see how high we press, how much we make the attackers work – and then the backline does their job, and we’ve got an unbelievable goalkeeper (sophomore Jacob Castro) when we need him to do something.” 

The unbelievable goalkeeper mentioned by Hopkins is last week’s Pac-12 player of the week, sophomore goalkeeper Jacob Castro. Castro leads the nation in both shutouts (six) and save percentage (96.3%). The Pac-12 saves leader was only forced to make one stop against the Zags.

“It’s just everybody, everyone’s belief in the system, everyone’s belief in working hard for each other, and understanding what it takes to win,” Hopkins said about not allowing a first-half goal all year.

The Aztec press was visibly frustrating the Zags in the first half with multiple Aztecs swarming to the ball each time the Bulldogs had possession. Gonzaga started to get more comfortable with the press in the second half, but still only managed to put up one shot on goal and one corner. 

The only shot for the Zags came 28 seconds into the second half, leading to the first time Gonzaga fans had something to cheer about. 

From there, it was smooth sailing for the Scarlet and Black, holding the majority of the possession for the remainder of the half and protecting the early lead provided by Santos and Ochoa. 

“The training method coach has us going through, constantly just working on patterns and building relationships,” said Santos on what leads to such fluency in the Aztec attacks. 

The Aztecs members said they hope to keep up this great chemistry and extend this historic undefeated streak in what should be a top ten battle next Thursday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. in Seattle against No. 3 Washington.

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