Aztec Men’s Soccer defeats UC San Diego 1-0

Sophomore midfielder Donovan Roux assisted on junior midfielder Iñigo Villaldea’s goal to make it 1-0, which secured the win for the Aztecs

Senior+Blake+Bowen+takes+on+a+UCSD+defender+in+a+1-0+SDSU+triumph+on+September+24th%2C+2022+at+the+SDSU+Sports+Deck.

Sophia O'Dell

Senior Blake Bowen takes on a UCSD defender in a 1-0 SDSU triumph on September 24th, 2022 at the SDSU Sports Deck.

by Adam Correa, Senior Staff Writer

The San Diego State men’s soccer team (3-4-2, 0-1-1 Pac-12) defeated the UC San Diego Tritons (4-3-2) 1-0.

The Aztecs came into the game 18-1-0 against the Tritons who they have not played since 1983.

Head coach Ryan Hopkins said before the match that “UCSD will present some difficult challenges for us as they are masters of defending for long stretches without the ball,” and that is exactly how the first half went.

The best chance for SDSU in the first half came in the ninth minute, when sophomore midfielder Donovan Roux had a scoring chance from the right side of the box but was stopped by graduate goalkeeper Dominic Peters.

The Aztecs almost scored an own goal in the 24th minute, when a ball sent into the box deflected off an Aztec defender and started rolling towards the goal, but junior defender Elias Katsaros saved it with his foot before it went over the line.

On attack the Aztecs tried multiple times to create clean back and forth passes to set up a forward for a goal-scoring opportunity, but they were mostly cut off by the Triton defense. 

Coach Hopkins said the team needs to move the ball quicker on those plays.

“The spaces were open,” Hopkins said. “Maybe we weren’t as decisive with the passes as we could have been.”

The best chance for a goal-scoring opportunity on that play design was late in the first half, when freshman forward Javi Camargo passed cleanly to a rushing Roux, who was tripped by a Triton defender. No foul was called because the defender was going for the ball.

Early in the second half, sophomore midfielder Carter Jacobus had the first scoring chance for UCSD. His shot from the left side hit bottom center and was saved by freshman goalkeeper Logan Erb, making his first start of the season.

Hopkins said the reason for starting Erb in net was to give him some playing time and give junior goalkeeper Jacob Castro a mental break.

“Logan’s been training really well, he’s got a lot of potential,” Hopkins said. “We felt it was a good opportunity to rest Jacob. I think the hardest thing with goalkeepers sometimes is to get that mental rest.”

In the 63rd minute, the Aztecs upped the offensive pressure. On the right side of the box, Roux juked out a Triton defender as he put the ball through the defender’s legs, creating open space to pass a ball to a crossing junior midfielder Iñigo Villaldea, who put a right-footed shot into the back of the net to make it 1-0. 

Roux said he was astonished he pulled off that move.

“It kind of came out of nowhere, I tried to set someone up, and then the ball came to me on the side and I don’t know,” Roux said. “It just happened so quickly so when I saw him (Villaldea) at the top of the box, I wanted to set him up.”

Villaldea also commented saying that Roux had no time to think and when he got the pass he knew he needed to execute.

Sixteen minutes later, UCSD senior midfielder Cooper Lachenbruch tried to equalize the game with his deep shot on net, but it went way over the head of Erb.

The Aztec defense held up the fort for the rest of the game and secured the 1-0 victory and their 19th win over the Tritons.

Hopkins was excited about the second straight clean sheet and the ability to compete with a troublesome Triton team.

“Our guys are really buying into things that lead to clean sheets so credit to the guys for digging one out,” Hopkins said. “UC San Diego is a really tough team and is really tough to break down and they caused us some troubles.”

The Triton’s leading scorer, graduate forward Nick Cirrito, didn’t start the game, played 64 minutes and took one shot.

The Aztecs resume PAC-12 play with their first game at Snapdragon Stadium and face the No.2 Washington Huskies (7-0-1) on Thursday, Sept. 29, a game Hopkins said his players are excited for. 

“We’ve had a lot of success since I’ve been here against Washington, every game has been one goal,” Hopkins said. “I know our guys are ready.”

Villaldea said the whole team is excited to play in Snapdragon Stadium and they received a boost of confidence from the win, which they will need against an undefeated Washington team.

“I feel like everyone is so excited, like we won today,” Villaldea said. “We know they’re gonna be so good. We have to deal with them and try to win that game.”

Roux said the success that the team has had against top 10 teams will make them more confident against Washington.

“We tend to do really well against top 10 teams and our record against top 10 teams recently has been really good,” Roux said. “So Washington coming in, it is a really good occasion for us.”

The Huskies have a 24-7-8 record versus the Aztecs and are 9-1 in their last 10 matches against SDSU.