MEN'S SOCCER PREPARES FOR FINAL HOME MATCHES OF SEASON WITH NO.9 NEW MEXICO AND UNLV
A Quick Recap
Sacramento State’s trip to Colorado was a heart-breaking one, with the team giving up early leads in both matches, resulting in a 2-1 loss at Air Force last Friday and tying Denver 1-1 after 110 minutes on Sunday.
At Air Force, sophomore Jack Jones gave Sacramento State an early one-goal lead in the 15th minute with the assists coming from freshman Zlatan Kuckovic and junior Eli Millan. But the Falcons answered less than three minutes later when Andy Nigro scored one of his two goals on the afternoon.
Entering the second half knotted at 1-1, the Hornets pushed for the go-ahead goal, outshooting Air Force 12-5, but it was Nigro who scored the game winner in the 72nd minute. His 20-yard blast ricochetted off the post and deflected off a Hornet defender before crossing the goal line.
On Sunday, the Hornets were just 52 seconds away from dealing Denver its only conference loss, when Greg Fiddick scored in the 90th minute. Sacramento State held its lead for much of the match after senior Oscar Sandoval buried his fifth goal of the season to left corner with the assist coming from Millan. The Pioneers, currently at the top of the league standings and ranked 21st in the nation, have allowed only two goals this season against MPSF competition, both to Sacramento State. Kuckovic scored against Denver in a 2-1 loss in Sacramento on Oct. 15.
The Week Ahead
The Hornets return home for the last time this season, hosting ninth-ranked New Mexico at 4 p.m. on Friday and UNLV at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The Hornets’ final match of the season will be a 7 p.m. kickoff at San Jose State on Friday, Nov. 3.
Prior to the start of Sunday’s match, Sacramento State’s nine-member senior class will be honored. The class includes seven four-year players and between them, the group shares five all-conference accolades and five all-academic honors.
After opening conference with a 1-0 loss at Denver, the Lobos have established a five-match winning streak, helping them to a No. 9 ranking in the country. New Mexico barely escaped UNLV last weekend, when Justin Davis scored the game winner during the 97th minute in Albuquerque. Just a sophomore, Sacramento native Chris Wright leads the team in scoring this season with four goals and two assists.
UNLV is winless in 2006, but four of the team’s six conference losses have been by just one goal. The Rebels have also taken three teams to overtime, including Air Force, New Mexico and Sacramento State. When the Hornets were in Las Vegas, Eli Millan scored the game winner in the 109th minute on Oct. 6. Nicholas Paterson leads the Rebels with two goals and five assists.
A New Dimension
Sacramento State junior midfielder Eli Millan redshirted during the 2005 season, but this year returned right where he left off at the end of 2004. As a sophomore two years ago, Millan finished second on the team in scoring with five goals, including three game winners. This year, Millan has scored or registered an assist in five of the team’s seven conference games. A 2003 graduate of Foothill High School in Sacramento, Millan is currently second on the team in scoring with a total of three goals and a conference-leading six assists. The central midfielder’s 0.50 assists per game also ranks 22nd in the nation. Millan is currently on a four-match scoring streak, recording at least one assist in each of those games.
Hard to Say Goodbye
Sacramento State’s nine-member senior class will play their final match at Hornet Field on Sunday against UNLV. Defender Ismael Echeverría is in his fourth year with Sacramento State, and has been one of the program’s most reliable defenders. Appearing in 64 matches, Echeverría has scored two goals and added two assists. Off the field, his 3.1 gpa has earned him all-academic honors for three consecutive seasons.
Another fourth-year player, midfielder Pedro Lupercio has developed a reputation as one of the team’s most creative players. The Hornets’ starting right midfielder over the past three years, Lupercio has played in 68 career matches. A year ago, Lupercio received all-MPSF honors after a career-season with two goals and two assists.
The senior class’ only three-time conference honoree, Utodi Madu emerged as one of the league’s top defenders a season ago, earning first-team honors. A veteran in his fifth year with the program, Madu has made 66 starts, a mark that ranks second in program history. A versatile defender in the middle of the defense or out wide, he has produced one goal and three assists in his career.
Another integral part of Sacramento State’s defense, Jesse Manton is a team captain in his fourth season. The team’s starting left back, Manton was a crucial member of the 2005 back line, that led the team to an eight-match unbeaten streak at home. Off the field, his 3.6 gpa earned him all-academic conference honors for three straight years. Jesse was also named to the Academic All-District VIII first team and to the NSCAA All-Academic second team.
Eric Ortiz is one of the team’s most versatile and athletic players. With speed and quickness, Ortiz has helped the team on the back line, in the midfield and up top for four years. His career numbers include four assists, 57 matches and 38 starts. Last year he made 16 starts at right back, helping the team to nine victories.
One of the program’s most prolific goal scorers in recent history, Ryan Rhoads will leave Sacramento State with 18 career goals and nine assists in 67 career matches. As a sophomore, he led the team with eight goals and last season, he tallied five goals and five assists during the Hornets’ record-breaking year. This season, he also has five goals to his credit. Ryan’s 18 career goals rank third in program history and his 45 career points are second all-time.
In just his second year with the Hornets, Eliot Rick-Chambers has already made his mark. With six career goals and two assists, Ricks-Chambers has earned MPSF Player of the Week honors twice, and was also named to the Soccer America Men’s College Team of the Week after producing the game-tying goals in back-to-back matches against UNLV and second-ranked New Mexico. At one point, Ricks-Chambers produced a goal or an assist in six consecutive starts.
Sacramento State’s leading scorer the past two seasons, forward Oscar Sandoval has totaled 13 goals and four assists. Last year he received all-conference honors after leading the team in scoring with eight goals and four assists. He has buried four game-winning goals during his career and was also named MPSF Player of the Week on two occasions, while earning College Soccer News Team of the Week honors. This year his bicycle kick led to the Hornets’ 2-1 victory at UNLV, and a week ago, he scored in Sacramento State’s 1-1 tie at Denver.
Andrew Tamm is in his fourth year at Sacramento State and has totaled two goals and six assists during his time here. The Hornets’ starting left midfielder in 2004, he was one of only two players to start all 19 matches. Tamm returned to the field after a knee injury in 2005, and has recorded five assists this season.