After going an entire month without a victory, the Sonoma State University men’s soccer team has made a strong playoff push at the end of the season as it has turned what was a losing record into a positive one. With its current record of 7-6-2, the pressure is on to finish the season with more wins than losses, as the team has had a streaky season with only a few games left to play.
The Seawolves had two previous home games scheduled against Cal State San Marcos and UC San Diego, which authorities cancelled due to unhealthy air quality levels and the threat of wildfires in Sonoma County. Although the games have been temporarily cancelled, the schools will determine and post make up dates and times at a later period.
“Our team is a family, making sure one another were safe during the fire,” freshman goalkeeper Ryan Kelly said. “Players offered their homes to let other players stay, and I think that companionship is going to take us far once we get into the conference tournament.”.
Over the weekend, Sonoma State played two nail-biting matches against Cal State L.A. and Cal State Dominguez Hills, where the Seawolves came out victorious in both. After adding two wins to their record, the Seawolves have built notable confidence as a team and remain determined to finish out the season in a positive manner.
“We really tried to focus on keeping our fitness levels high and staying sharp while training off campus,” Kelly said. “We knew we had to be sharp for the weekend because we had to win both games, or else we would lose our chances of going to the conference tournament.”.
On Friday, the Sonoma State Seawolves faced the Cal State L.A. Golden Eagles, a matchup that was neck and neck throughout the entire game. With a record of (10-3-2) on the season, Sonoma State knew it had a hard battle coming against the Golden Eagles. Sonoma State’s TJ Perez, senior forward, knocked home the first goal of the game off of an assist from both Sebastian Santos and Luis Mendoza as he shot over the keeper’s head, dead center into the goal. In the 39th minute, Cal State L.A.‘s David Elizaga, freshman midfielder, tied the game as he drilled in a free kick from 18 yards out into the top right corner of the Seawolves’ net. The game came down to the wire, as Sonoma State shocked the Golden Eagles with a second goal from Perez in the 75th minute on a rebounded one-time shot to seal the deal for the Seawolves.
The next big game for the Seawolves came on Sunday against the Cal State Dominguez Hills Toros (11-4-1). This game was do or die for Sonoma State as it was necessary to win in order to make it to the CCAA tournament. The Seawolves were able to get on the board early as Eric Alvarado, senior defender, scored in the 7th minute on an assist by Mendoza. Sonoma State was able to keep the Toros from scoring in the first half, until Carlos Escobedo, junior defender, tied the game (1-1) to begin the second half. The tension grew deeper into the game as the time regulation was coming to a close. With less than five minutes remaining in regulation, Perez lifted Sonoma State to victory as he snuck the game-winning goal as it rolled past the Toros’ goalkeeper. The Seawolves were ecstatic as they kept their season alive.
The Seawolves will close out the season playing their final away game against San Francisco State on Saturday. This season has been nothing short of a rollercoaster, with plenty of highs and lows, but the Seawolves are determined to finish strong and bring back some wins for Sonoma. These past few weeks have been tough for Sonoma State and the athletic department due to the wildfires, and victories are just what the Seawolves need to turn things around.
“We are going into the game with the must win mentality,” Alvarado said “These past three games have been do or die. We do have plans for playoffs. If we win against SF, we will make the CCAA tournament. But we’re just taking it one game at a time.”