San Diego Cashes In On Man Advantage To Down Bulldogs 1-0
SPOKANE, Wash. - League-leading University of San Diego took advantage of a Gonzaga University red-card ejection Friday to escape with a 1-0 West Coast Conference men's soccer victory at Gonzaga Soccer Field.
Gonzaga (4-12-0; 0-9-0) senior defender James Partee, who had been whistled for a yellow card just minutes earlier, received his second yellow and with it the automatic red card and ejection when he spiked the ball to the ground in frustration with 23:30 remaining in the scoreless match. It meant the Bulldogs had to play shorthanded the remainder of the match.
Just 5:15 later USD (10-6-0; 8-1-0) got a goal from Connor Brandt off a right-to-left cross from Dan Delgado, Brandt beating Gonzaga keeper Ryan Caballero to the keeper's right for the decisive shot of the match.
The Zags came out inspired, Nick Hamer nearly putting the Zags on the scoreboard just 28 seconds into the match when he hustled down the left sideline with a USD defender and made a sliding shot on goal that just skimmed past the left post. It was a play the Bulldogs tried early and often.
"We tried to shoot him (Hamer) through unmarked. We got him open a few times; just couldn't get the ball to him more than once or twice," Gonzaga head coach Einar Thorarinsson said of the offensive attack plan.
"I thought our game plan was right there," Thorarinsson said. "The red card was the difference. Everything just went south when we got the red card."
Despite remaining winless in the WCC and suffering a ninth straight setback, Thorarinsson praised his troops.
"We had good performances from Lars (Ludwigs), Erik (Nielsen) and Andrew (Owenson). They were just outstanding. And Greg (Carter) in the back played extremely well."
The Bulldogs held a 6-4 edge in shots in the first half, but the Hamer dash for the ball early was perhaps the best threat by either team. Drew Ilijevski, who ran his record to 8-1-0 with his fourth shutout of the year, made a pair of harmless saves and Caballero had one soft save.
The second half had more scoring chances.
Gonzaga's Connor Bevans took a thru ball from James Matern and the shot went wide left in the 58th minute. The Bulldogs claimed Ilijevski got his hand on the ball as it skipped past the left post, the official ruled otherwise and the Bulldogs were not awarded the corner kick.
Two minutes following the USD goal the Toreros' Torrey DeArmas had a shot tipped over the goal by Caballero for the best save of the day at either end of the field.
In the 79th minute there was congestion and confusion in front of Caballero. A cross to the net changed direction in traffic in what appeared at first to be another USD goal. But the ball off Julian Ringhof hit the goal post and the Bulldogs were able to clear. The USD bench briefly argued the ball had cross the goalline but to no avail.
USD played without leading scorer Patrick Wallen who was injured in pre-match warm-ups.
"He's (Wallen's) definitely a target guy up front. I don't think their game plan would have changed much. We had them scouted pretty well," Thorarinsson said. "They played well. They stayed organized and played open. But we played well, too."
The middle match of a three-game homestand will be Sunday when Gonzaga entertains Loyola Marymount University at noon. Gonzaga's four seniors - Caballero, Partee, Nielsen and Casey Ames will be honored in pre-match ceremonies. Because of Friday's red card, Partee will be unavailable to play in the match because of the automatic one-match suspension a red card carries.
Sunday's match will be the front end of a double-header as the Bulldog women entertain Eastern Washington University at 2:30 p.m. It will also be Senior Day for the women with the seniors honored in pre-match ceremonies.