BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – The Sacramento State men's soccer team played a match for the ages Friday night, battling previously undefeated CSU Bakersfield to a hard-earned 5-4 overtime win. The Hornets trailed by two at two different points Friday night, but managed to overcome despite playing down a man for nearly 80 minutes.
The dagger came in the 96th minute as freshman Benji Kikanovic dribbled around two Roadrunners defenders before punching one in past the CSUB keeper to give the Hornets the victory. But the battle started nearly 80 minutes earlier.
Sacramento State knew they were in for a tough match Friday, taking on an undefeated CSU Bakersfield team that had just shutout #17 Pacific, 3-0. Despite that, Sacramento State showed no signs of hesitation on Friday.
The Hornets jumped out to a 1-0 lead after just 24 seconds when Brad Bumgarner connected with Kikanovic for a brilliant and quick score. For Kikanovic, the goal was his first of the season after scoring four times in three preseason games. For Bumgarner, the assist was his second of the year.
All of the momentum seemed to be in the Hornets' favor, but Bakersfield caught a break when Sacramento State's starting goalkeeper, Nick Kubler, made a save with his hands while outside of the box. The action resulted in a red card, Kubler's removal from the game, and a Runners' penalty kick. With freshman keeper Ryan Curtis in for Kubler and making his career debut, CSU Bakersfield evened the match at one.
Although Kubler was replaced by Curtis, the Hornets were forced to play a man down after the red card in just the 12th minute of the match.
Down a man, the Hornets shifted to a more defensive approach, but CSU Bakersfield suddenly seemed in control of the match. The Roadrunners scored another goal in the 36th minute and took a 2-1 lead into the half.
Fresh out of the halftime, it was more of the same as CSUB climbed ahead 3-1 just over two minutes into the second period.
Sacramento State caught a break in the 54th minute when a Bakersfield own goal suddenly made it a 3-2 match. RJ Moorhouse took a corner kick for the Hornets, placing it low and into traffic in front of the net. Luis Urias made a leaping attempt to head the ball and caused just enough of a distraction for the ball to kick off a defenders foot and jump into the lower left corner for the goal.
Bakersfield was far from done, however. 20 minutes later, Francisco Gomez caught a breakaway against the Sacramento State defense to get a one-on-one with Curtis. Gomez beat the rookie keeper and smashed a shot home to make it a 4-2 game and extend his team's lead back to two.
Just 24 seconds later, though, Oscar Govea cut the deficit back to one with his first career goal. Charging down the field, Govea received a perfect pass from Chris Cearlock at the top of the box. He handled it perfectly and fired a shot into the bottom left corner of the goal in the 75th minute.
The equalizer came in the 85th minute for the Hornets. After a yellow card against Bakersfield, Sacramento State's Moorhouse took a free kick nearly from midfield. He placed a great ball toward the front of the goal and Jack Larter won down low, getting a foot on the ball and tapping it in for the score. For Moorhouse, it was his second assist of the night
After trailing 3-1 and again 4-2 and playing down a man since the 12th minute, the Hornets battled back to force an overtime period. At that point, all of the momentum and energy was on the Sacramento State side of the field and it was just minutes until Kikanovic put the game away with his second goal of the night.
Kubler's red card in the 12th minute was just one of three total reds on the night. CSU Bakersfield picked up their first red card of the night in the 87th minute. Then, just two minutes into overtime, the Roadrunners' Henry Nguyen drew his second yellow of the game, resulting in another red.
In total, the match, which was as physical and intense as any, featured three reds, six yellows, and 28 combined fouls. All of that, to go with 32 total shots and nine combined goals.
The Hornets had the advantage in shots, 17-15, though it was the Roadrunners who held the edge in shots on goal, 9-7. Despite that, Curtis made four saves for the Hornets in his career debut, two more than CSUB's goalkeeper, Deltre Bell, who had just two saves while allowing four goals.
Sacramento State used 19 of their 26 players in the win while Larter and Luis Urias led the team with 95 minutes each. The Hornets got excellent minutes from many of their subs Friday night, including strong showings by sophomores Justin Bedig and Moorhose and freshman Dane Schnell, as well as from many others.
The Hornets will get right back at it on Sunday as they return home to host San Jose State. The Spartans, who played Stanford to a scoreless draw earlier this season, will be another tough challenge for Sacramento State. That match is scheduled for a 4 pm kickoff on Sunday at Hornet Field. For more information, be sure to visit the 2018 Sacramento State men's soccer schedule online at HornetSports.com.