Aztecs struggle to Continue Momentum of First Victory

by publicationarchive

Injuries plaguing young team, which suffers back-to-back close losses By David Beck, Senior Staff Writer It doesn’t matter if you’re the Brazilian national team or the Los Angeles Galaxy. If your team plays five games in nine days, it’s going to take a toll on the players. This is exactly what the San Diego State men’s soccer team is experiencing. “We have a banged up team with a lot of injuries,” head coach Lev Kirshner said. “We are just not able to put our best lineup out there right now and are facing a lot of adversity.” The last two games in this draining stretch were up north against UC Davis and Saint Mary’s. The Aztecs were feeling good coming into the contest having come off their first win of the season against UNLV, but unfortunately were knocked back down with back-to-back one-goal defeats. Last Friday against UC Davis, the Aztecs and the Aggies were deadlocked in a scoreless battle for the first 85 minutes. With only five minutes remaining, Aggie senior Johnny Yau nailed a ball that hit the back of the nylon and scored giving UC Davis a 1-0 lead, which it would hold for the remainder of the contest. Both teams looked very even on paper with the Aztecs out shooting the Aggies 12-11 and tying in shots on goal. Unfortunately for the boys in Red and Black, all it takes is one to go in, and one is exactly what UC Davis got. “It was an even game, and we had our opportunities,” Kirshner said. “We are just not doing the things that are necessary to win the game.” The Aztecs got another nail-biter on Sunday, but again came out on the losing end as Saint Mary’s took down SDSU by a final of 2-1. For the second straight game, neither team scored in the first half, with the first goal coming off the foot of Saint Mary’s substitute Derek Youpel at the 50-minute mark. The Aztecs would answer back though, in the form of a header by senior forward Frank Caruso at the 60-minute mark, but Youpel would prove to be too much to handle in this one. He picked up his second goal of the game at the 68-minute mark to give the Gaels the go ahead and eventually the victory. In the end, Saint Mary’s led in shots by a tally of 9-8 and in shots on goal by a score of 6-3. Although the Aztecs lost both games, the contests featured some impressive performances from the men from the Mesa. “Heath (Craeger) gave a courageous effort and played extremely tough through sickness,” Kirshner said. “Tally (Hall) also has been playing very well and Eric (Santiago) has been playing very consistently for us this season.” Even though the loss dropped the Aztecs to a record of 1-6-1, there is still no shortage of optimism within the ball club and SDSU feels as though there is still ample time to turn this season around and get it heading back in the right direction. “We are trying to get better in every game we play,” Craeger said. “We’re hoping to peak toward the end of the season and take that momentum into the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament.” SDSU will be returning to conference play when they take on the No. 7-ranked University of New Mexico 7 p.m. Thursday in Albuquerque, NM.