Men’s soccer competes for WCC lead
Every game matters with just 7 remaining
Following the upset of No. 1 UCLA, the Torero men’s soccer team moved onto their West Coast Conference League games starting with the University of San Francisco Dons. The Dons boast a very talented defense that had tallied four shutouts on the season, adding another against the Toreros.
Both teams were held scoreless until midway through the second half when USF senior midfielder Danny Kirkland scored on a header. The Dons scored on another header in the 74th minute when Jesus Del Toro found the back of the net off of a corner kick, making the score 2-0. This would end up being the final score, but the loss was to a Dons team that had upset three Top 25 teams already this year in University of California-Berkeley, University of Wisconsin and Florida Gulf Coast University.
The Toreros and Dons are both contenders for the West Coast Conference championship this season, and the title is up for grabs with just seven games remaining. Senior midfielder Connor Brandt understands that in order to win the WCC, the team needs to improve on many levels.
“If we want to win the WCC, we need to be more clinical at finishing in front of the goal,” Brandt said. “We are creating chances at the moment but just not finding the back of the net.
On Oct. 5, the Toreros traveled to Santa Clara University to take on the Broncos. The USD offensive attack was very successful in the first half, resulting in a 2-1 lead that the Broncos could not overcome. Senior midfielder Josh Cintas scored his first goal as a Torero after transferring from College of the Holy Cross for his senior season. Sophomore midfielder Parker Price scored what would be the game winning goal in the 54th minute. The Toreros were able to hold off a late surge by the Broncos to capture their fourth win of the season, and a crucial one in order to stay in the hunt for a WCC championship.
The Toreros fell to the Loyola Marymount University Lions in their next game by a score of 1-0. USD controlled the ball for a majority of the game and had several scoring opportunities, but was unable to produce a goal. The Lions got their only goal on a questionable no-offside call that gave senior midfielder Sebastian De Rada an open shot right in front of the goal. Unfortunately, that would be enough for the Lions to seal the victory, and the offensive struggles continue for the Toreros.
The defense is a huge reason why USD has been able to stay in so many low scoring games, and Brandt recognizes that if the offense can improve they will have a much better chance to win.
“Our defense has been very strong all season,” Brandt said. “Now it’s time for myself and the rest of the midfield and forwards to step up.”
Despite losing two out of their last three, they are right in the mix of the WCC race and can help themselves tremendously with a win on Oct. 17 at home against the St. Mary’s College Gaels. Brandt has four years of experience on his side and knows that anything can happen this year.
“The way the conference is set up this year is comes down to a seven game season, single round robin format,” said Brandt. “Any team can catch fire in these seven games and the winner takes the conference and a bid to the NCAA Tournament.”
With the competition being so equal, certain factors are going to play a major role in who has the best chance to win conference, according to junior forward Torrey DeArmas.
“Some teams are hard to beat at their place, but home field advantage is a big thing because we are all so even,” DeArmas said. “I think it’ll come down to the team who wins at least five games in league.”
The Toreros had not beaten Santa Clara at their field in two years, so that victory will be very beneficial down the road. The still have home games against St. Mary’s College Gaels, the University of Pacific Tigers and a rematch with the Broncos.
The home game against the Gaels is on Oct. 17 and starts at 7 p.m.