MEN’S SOCCER BEATS CAL POLY, 5-1, ON SENIOR DAY; CLINCHES BIG WEST TOURNEY SPOT

MEN’S SOCCER BEATS CAL POLY, 5-1, ON SENIOR DAY; CLINCHES BIG WEST TOURNEY SPOT

Big West Conference standings

SACRAMENTO -- Five different Sacramento State players scored goals, and the Hornets secured a Big West Conference Tournament berth with a 5-1 victory over Cal Poly on Saturday afternoon at Hornet Field.

Four of the Hornets' five goals came in the second half to break open what had been a 1-1 tie at halftime. The five goals were the most for the program since Sacramento State beat 13th-ranked UC Santa Barbara, 5-2, on Oct. 14, 2015. In addition, the four-goal margin of victory was the largest since the 2011 season, and the largest against a Div. I opponent since the Hornets knocked off Cal Poly, 6-2, on Sept. 22, 1996.

More importantly, despite two matches still to be played in the regular season, Sacramento State (8-7-1, 4-3-1) was able to clinch a spot in the Big West Conference Tournament which begins on Nov. 1. The Hornets, who currently have 13 conference points, secured no worse than the No. 3 spot in a very tough Big West North Division. Sacramento State still has two games left on the regular season schedule, and those come next week at UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday and rival UC Davis on Sunday. The No. 1 seed in the North Division will receive a first round bye in the six-team tournament while the No. 2 seed will host a first round game.

Currently, Sacramento State's 13 points are tied with UC Davis for second place in the division while UC Santa Barbara is first with 14 points. UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara are playing each other this evening.

Coupled with the Hornets' 3-2 overtime win at Cal Poly on Oct. 11, Sacramento State was able to sweep the season series over the Mustangs for the first time since joining the Big West in 2012. Today's loss dropped Cal Poly's record to 6-9-1 overall and 2-5-1 in league.

The Hornets picked a great time to notch their season high in goals as the program honored seniors Brad Burkhart, Elias Rieland, Cylus Sandoval, Trevor Jackson, Paul Geyer and James Del Curto prior to the game for their contributions to the program. All six seniors played in today's game, including Geyer, who notched his second goal of the season in the 74th minute to give the Hornets a 4-1 lead. Del Curto made four saves while allowing just a penalty kick goal, and Sandoval assisted on the Hornets' second goal of the game.

Joining Geyer in the Sacramento State goal barrage was Matt Carnefix, Justin Bedig, Dominic Scotti and Brad Bumgarner. In all, nine Sacramento State players accounted for points in today's game, including assists from Sandoval, Christian Webb, Tyler Moss and Dennis Cole. Bedig and Carnefix both had a goal and an assist.

Carnefix opened the game's scoring in the 16th minute after taking a cross from Webb and finding the back of the net. Cal Poly was able to tie on an Adam Olsen penalty kick in the 44th minute as the two teams went into halftime tied at 1-1. In the second half, it was all Sacramento State as the Hornets scored four times during a span of 24 minutes. Bedig scored what would be the game winner in the 51st minute on assists from Sandoval and Carnefix.

A header from Scotti on an assist from Moss gave the Hornets a 3-1 lead in the 63rd minute and Geyer made it 4-1 with a beautiful sliding goal from the seat of his pants from 10 yards out. Bumgarner added the game's final goal in the 75th minute after heading in a cross from Cole.

"Despite a dropoff in play during the last five minutes of the first half, we thought we played a solid first half and were very positive with our guys at halftime despite the 1-1 score," Sacramento State head coach Michael Linenberger said. "To be honest, we struggled a little bit at the beginning of the second half. Cal Poly was all over us with set pieces, corner kick after corner kick, James (Del Curto) had to make some big saves and we cleared some balls off the line. After that, the flood gates opened up for us, and I couldn't be happier for our guys."

The two teams combined for 25 shots (SAC 13, CP 12) while the Mustangs had an 8-5 advantage in corner kicks.

The Hornets, who are 4-2 on the road this year, will play their final two regular season road games next week at UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday and UC Davis on Sunday. Both games will have a big impact on the Hornets' attempt to either get a first round bye in the Big West Tournament or host a first round game.