Eyeing a postseason berth for the second time in the past three seasons, the Sonoma State University men’s soccer team faced-off against Cal State San Bernardino and Cal Poly Pomona with their playoff hopes on the line.
The Seawolves would need a win to reach 19 points in CCAA play to qualify for the CCAA championship tournament.
Sonoma State would have to play two conference opponents in the final two games of the CCAA regular season, needing a win in just one of them to send them into the postseason.
The Seawolves overall record of (9-5-2), with a conference record of (5-4-1), has them currently tied for fourth place in the CCAA. The Seawolves would need to finish in the top six to advance to the championship tournament.
Junior forward Armando Coronel was confident about his team’s chances of making the playoffs.
“We were in a great position. We controlled our own fate,” said Coronel. “Our focus was on getting that one win.”
Sonoma State battled the Coyotes into an overtime thriller at Coyote Premier Field in their first match of the week.
San Bernardino is backing up the bottom of the CCAA with a record of (3-8-3).
Senior Dylan Stafford started the scoring off, heading in a high pass from teammate Jose Avalos.
The header gave the Seawolves the lead in minute 8.
The Sonoma State defense then looked to take over the match and seal the victory.
A valiant effort was made by sophomore goalkeeper Mitch North, who defended 31 shots, with 14 coming his way in the second half. The Coyotes were able to slip the equalizing goal past North in minute 81.
The rest of the game, as well as the first period of overtime remained scoreless, sending the game to a second overtime period of golden goal soccer.
It didn’t take long, as junior TJ Perez fired in the game winning golden goal in minute 106.
Not only did the goal get the Seawolves the victory, but it also secured a playoff berth. It was Perez’s sixth goal of the season, but the most crucial of his career.
“It was a big time clutch goal, especially being that it came in overtime,” said teammate Coronel. “The team was overcome with excitement because we knew the goal locked us into the tournament.”
Perez had nothing but praise for his teammates after his walk-off golden goal.
“The ball from Armando was the perfect set up to that goal,” said Perez. “It was amazing.”
Goalkeeper North was at the center of the Seawolves exciting victory, turning in another impressive stat sheet.
North had 10 saves and defended 31 Coyote shots.
His teammates emphasized how important he was in their stretch before the playoffs.
“He is without a doubt a huge reason for our success,” said Coronel. “He has had some amazing saves that have kept us in a lot of games.”
North leads the CCAA in saves this season with 71, while also recording six shutouts throughout the season.
Sonoma State squared off against Cal Poly Pomona at Kellogg Stadium in Pomona Saturday, to close out the final game of the CCAA regular season in a playoff tune-up game.
The Seawolves dug themselves into a hole early, giving up two goals in the first 10 minutes of the game.
When the Broncos added their third goal of the half, making the score 0-3, coach Ziemer decided to clear the bench and give his starters some much needed rest before their playoff showdown.
Sonoma State dropped the final game of the regular season 0-5 to Cal Poly Pomona, moving their final record to (10-6-2) for the season.
The loss to the Broncos moved the Seawolves to the five seed for the CCAA championship tournament, matching them up with the four seed Stanislaus State.
Sonoma State lost their only game against the Stanislaus State Warriors earlier this season, with a score of 0-2.
The Seawolves will look to redeem their loss against the Warriors by playing traditional Sonoma State soccer.
“The main focus is to stay true to our game,” said Perez. “We are going to take one game at a time and try to make a final stretch for the championship.”
The game will take place in Turlock, at Warrior Stadium on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.
If the Seawolves pull out the victory, they will advance to face the No. 1 overall seed Cal State Dominguez Hills in the semi-finals on Friday.