MEN'S SOCCER ONE WIN AWAY FROM NCAA TOURNAMENT FOLLOWING OVERTIME MPSF SEMIFINAL VICTORY OVER UNLV
DENVER - Freshman Matt Linenberger scored his first career goal just under two minutes into the second overtime session, giving the No. 1 seeded Sacramento State men's soccer team a 1-0 victory over the sixth seeded UNLV Rebels in the semifinal round of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament on Friday, Nov. 13.
With the win, the Hornets improved to 11-5-2 on the season, and will play the No. 2 seeded New Mexico Lobos on Sunday, Nov. 15 at 12 p.m. Pacific time for the MPSF title.
In a match that featured constant snow flurries and a frozen pitch, penalty kicks seemed to be looming, as the field work had already begun during the break between the first and second overtime session to clean the penalty area should the need arise. Linenberger, a defender by trade, had played just 13 minutes in the contest before being inserted to start the final 10 minute golden goal session. In the 102nd minute, junior Fernando Cabadas, the MPSF's leader in assists, sent a through ball that stuck on the snow near the top of the box, where Linenberger met up with the ball on a sprint, dribbled, and fired an un-natural right footed shot that bounded off the right side of UNLV 'keeper Roland Swanson and into the back of the net for the game winner. The goal was just the left-footed Sacramento native's second shot of the season.
Prior to the goal, both teams struggled with a pitch covered in snow, and were unable to take advantage of many opportunites on frame. After Sacramento State held a 3-2 advantage in shots on goal in the first half, the Rebels came back to post five chances on goal in the second half that were all stopped by the Hornets sophomore goalkeeper Bryan Oliver. Similar to their regular season encounter, which ended as a 1-1 tie on a late goal UNLV in the 87th minute that was the lone blemish on the Hornets conference record, the Rebels seemed to have some momentum on their side thanks to second half chances heading into the overtime session. But, UNLV's lone attempt on goal was stopped by Oliver, and the Hornets and Rebels went to a second overtime session, with Sacramento State coming out victorious.
For the match, the Rebels posted a 16-10 advantage in shots, and held in 8-4 advantage in shots on goal. Stephen Sifuentes posted three shots to pace UNLV, while Swanson collected three saves in goal.
First team all-MPSF performer Cabadas led the Hornet charge with five shots, including three on goal, while the MPSF Player of the Year, junior Ernesto Carranza, added three shots. Oliver posted a season-high eight saves in goal for the Hornets, and collected his fourth clean sheet of the season.
More snow is forecast for Sunday in Denver, with the high projected to reach just 34 degrees.