Bulldogs Return Home Spoiled In 2-1 Setback To San Francisco
SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga University's men's soccer team returned home Sunday for the first time since Sept. 2, but the Bulldogs didn't get the homecoming they would have wished for in front of a sun-baked crowd of 739.
Mauricio Diaz De Leon scored his second goal of the match at 70:23 and the University of San Francisco made it stand up for a 2-1 West Coast Conference men's soccer victory at Gonzaga Soccer Field.
"We just didn't have the fire for 90 minutes. We pushed the game for 50 or 60 minutes, but late in the second half is where they kind of pushed it and got the goal," Gonzaga head coach Einar Thorarinsson said.
De Leon had given the Dons a 1-0 lead at 34:34 when he took a ball that was sent in up the middle from 40 yards by David Romney, and De Leon got past a pair of defenders for a one-on-one with keeper Chris Lowrimore who had little chance at the shot from 12 yards.
But the Bulldogs drew even by halftime. Conner Bevans was pulled down from behind in the box and Zach Hamer scored his first goal of the season on the ensuing penalty kick. Hamer went to the left post, USF keeper Brendan Roslund guessed the other direction and the Bulldogs had the equalizer at 39:11.
USF nearly took the lead early in the second half. Miguel Aguilar had a low shot from the far post to the near post headed for the open goal, but Nikolai Littleton knocked the ball out of harm's way at the last second as he tumbled into the back of the net in the 52nd minute.
The Bulldogs almost drew even in the 78th minutes when Zach Hamer took a hard, waist-high shot the Roslund went to his right on and knocked down to prevent the tying goal. Gonzaga had one last chance to drawing even when Pacheco's shot from 12 yards hooked right past the open goal in the 88th minute.
Thorarinsson said the Bulldogs had their chances.
"We had good chances; we just didn't get THE good chance. The one Nate had at the end was wide open," he said. "They (USF) possessed the ball, especially in the early going, but they never really got anything behind us as you could tell from the shot totals in the first half (6-5 Dons). They didn't really have anything until about the 30th minute."
The Dons ended up with a 14-8 edge in shots and a 6-4 advantage in shots on goal. Both keepers made three saves. Lowrimore started his fourth straight match since coming on in place of Ryan Caballero who started the first five matches of the season for the Bulldogs.
A few players are starting to get healthy and into playing shape. Jesus Gonzalez, a freshman forward, saw his first action of the season and Zach Hamer is seeing more playing time, and Littleton is still rounding into game shape.
"Jesus got his minutes, but he's not game ready. Zach had some really good minutes. I see him getting more and more time. Littleton is probably 90 percent," Thorarinsson said.
The play of sophomore transfer Lars Ludwigs continues to catch Thorarinsson's eye.
"Lars is just all over the field. He tires in the second half. That's why I subbed him. He works so hard," Thorarinsson noted.
He also said no spot is secure.
"We're a 15 or 16 guys team now. I'm not going to zero in on 11 guys. Even the keeper situation is not cleared yet. Hopefully, guys will take that to heart, and there will be some competition during practice. There should be," Thorarinsson said.
The Bulldogs are back on the road this week, heading to Loyola Marymount University Friday and the University of San Diego Sunday.