MEN'S SOCCER UPSETS NO. 1 DENVER, 3-1, IN MPSF SEMIFINALS, ADVANCES TO CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Chris Bettencourt scored his third goal of the tourney (above) in the 72nd minute.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The No. 5 seeded Sacramento State men's soccer team upset No. 1 seeded Denver, 3-1, in the semifinals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament on Friday afternoon at Hornet Soccer Field.
The friendly confines of Hornet Field are a sanctuary for Sacramento State, as the Hornets have now gone undefeated in 19-straight home games, dating back to the 2008 season.
Behind goals from Rory O'Day, Chris Bettencourt and Fernando Cabadas, the Hornets improved to 9-4-7 on the season with the win while the Pioneers, the top seed in the tournament, fell to 9-6-4 after the loss.
It was scoreless at halftime despite a dominate offensive performance by the Hornets as head coach Michael Linenberger's squad blasted nine shots while Denver managed just one and took three corner kicks to Denver's one in the opening 45 minutes. But only one of the Hornets' nine first half shots was on goal, and Denver keeper Joe Willis made the save.
But it was a different story in the second half, as all four goals in the game were scored after the break.
Rory O'Day gave the Hornets the lead in the 53rd minute when Fernando Cabadas' corner kick sailed toward the back post and O'Day, a 6-foot-2 defender, leaped up and used a header to redirect the ball into the back of the net. It was O'Day's second score of the season.
In the 72nd minute, Bettencourt knocked in his third goal of the tournament and ninth of the season when he took a pass from Ernesto Carranza in the left third of the box and one-touched a low shot just inside the near post.
But Denver answered quickly to bring it back to a one-goal Hornet lead, scoring just 19 seconds after Bettencourt's goal when Mark Weigand flicked the ball forward after the kick-off and Kellan Christensen found Jarod Stigall for the score from 20-yards out.
Sacramento State pushed it back to a two-goal advantage when Cabadas scored his fourth goal of the season on an assist from Carranza. On a 3-on-3 situation after the Hornet defense stole away the ball and pushed it forward, Carranza passed the ball into the middle where Cabadas fired a shot that caromed off a Denver defender's hip and snuck inside the far post.
The Hornets have now scored nine goals in two MPSF Tournament games this year after scoring six goals in 10 MPSF regular season games.
Chris Bettencourt has three goals and Carranza has two goals and an amazing four assists in the tournament.
Sacramento State will meet No. 2 seeded Cal State Bakersfield in the championship match at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Hornet Soccer Field. The Roadrunners defeated No. 3 seeded New Mexico, 2-0, in the earlier semifinal game on Friday.
Teammates mob around Fernando Cabadas after his goal gave the Hornets a 3-1 lead.