Late Goal Dooms Bulldogs 3-2 In Saint Mary's Comeback
SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga University jumped to a quick 2-0 lead, but Saint Mary's College scored three unanswered goals Sunday to take a 3-2 West Coast Conference men's soccer victory on a sometimes wet, chilly day at Gonzaga Soccer Field.
The Bulldogs (4-9-2; 2-5-1) were forced to play the last 22:06 a man short after Colin Flynn was called for a spikes-high tackle and given a red card.
"I thought he slipped and went over the ball, but the referee said he came through the ball on the tackle and you can't do that," Gonzaga head coach Einar Thorarinsson said.
Agustin Cazarez' second goal of the afternoon at 88:50 proved to be the difference. Julian Godinez, who had a goal and two assists, fed a cross from the left wing. Cazarez got enough of his head on the ball from about 12 yards out to send it on a hard line to the far post as Gonzaga goalkeeper Jeff Renslo, making his first start of the season in place of Ryan Caballero, was screened on the play and had little chance at the save.
Seconds prior to the match-winning goal, Renslo had knocked down a header by Trevor Newquist from the right top of the 6 to the far post.
The Zags jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead. Flynn scored at 7:44 as Nick Hamer sent a thru ball up the middle, Flynn gained control, dribbled in and shot to the left post for his third goal of the season to tie Clark Phillips for the team lead. Less than a minute later it was 2-0 Bulldogs when Zach Hamer scored his first career goal as he took a Phillips pass inside the 18 and shot to the left side to beat Gaels' (5-5-5; 4-2-2) keeper Doug Herrick.
"It was a dream start, but a dangerous lead. Any team will try to battle back that early," Thorarinsson said.
SMC got back into the contest quickly. Godinez scored his first goal of the day at 11:35 when Cazarez sent a harmless right-to-left pass and Godinez drilled a rocket from 25 yards straightaway that appeared to be high but dipped under the crossbar at the last second.
"The ball was moving when he kicked it. I thought it was over (the net) but it dipped," Thorarinsson said. "He struck it well and it was a tough ball to judge."
The equalizer came at 73:14 when Godinez' free kick from 25 yards from the right wing curved to the far post and Cazarez was there for a deflection near the endline.
Each team had other solid scoring opportunities in the first half. Zach Hamer had a shot from the top of the 6 off a corner kick by James Matern that Herrick knocked down in the 18th minute. Renslo tipped a Newquist shot from 15 yards over the crossbar in the 28th minute and then punched Cazarez' shot from 12 yards off the left wing out of harm's way in the 43rd minute.
The Gaels nearly tied the match in the 49th minute, Godinez' free kick from 22 yards tipped high by Renslo.
"We needed this win to stay in the thick of it (the WCC race)," Thorarinsson said. "For some reason Saint Mary's is always a hard team for us to match up with."
Thorarinsson said he decided to give Renslo the start in goal "to see what how he would do against a team that likes to shoot a lot of high balls. He's a bigger keeper."
But Thorarinsson said it's "not the end of the line for Ryan. It will be game-by-game."
Caballero had started all 14 previous matches and had a 1.58 GAA and a WCC-leading 79 saves. Renslo had played nearly 88 minutes off the bench and had a 1.03 GAA heading into Sunday's start.
The Bulldogs were without the services of defender Josh Phillips who was serving an automatic one-game suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season Wednesday at the University of Portland.
With his red card Sunday Flynn must sit out Gonzaga's 2 p.m. match Friday at the University of San Diego. The Bulldogs will be at Loyola Marymount University next Sunday to conclude the road portion of the season. Gonzaga will end the regular season with home matches Nov. 11 against Santa Clara University and Nov. 13 against the University of San Francisco.