The Dons defeated the San Jose State Spartans on their home turf on Sunday, Sept. 8 in a game that proved to test the nerves. The Dons managed to pull ahead in the final minutes with a 2-1 win at Negoesco Stadium.
San Jose State struck first, scoring in the 16th minute, but the Dons quickly retaliated when junior midfielder Danny Kirkland scored on a free kick in the 20th minute. The physical aspect of soccer was on full display all game, as the six yellow cards and one red card often brought the game to a grinding halt and made scoring opportunities more difficult. On multiple occasions, Dons players were knocked to the ground following blows to the head, but they seemed to brush it off and come back stronger each time. Ultimately, sophomore midfielder Jesus del Toro finished off the Spartans in the 83rd minute of the game when he sent a header past the Spartan goalkeeper off of a free kick delivered by senior midfielder Vegard Karlsen.
“(San Jose State) played rough and fouled a lot, but (we) played well and it will be a good test for the season– similar to what we face with WCC (West Coast Conference) teams,” del Toro said. “We knew we had to take care of business and beat this team and just move forward.”
The Dons were coming off a bitter loss to No. 10 University of California, Berkeley Golden Bears last Thursday, Sept. 5 in a game that kept everybody on the edge of their seats. In the minutes leading up to the 1-0 loss that seemed to appear out of nowhere, Cal and USF were deadlocked in a 0-0 tie. It was a big night for Dons junior goalkeeper Chase Hauser, who had a total of six saves for a USF team that was feeling the heat from the Bears. Unfortunately, Hauser was unable to notch another save when met with Cal forward Christian Thierjung, who got the ball past Hauser in the last 20 seconds to beat the Dons 1-0. Cal has been playing extremely well in the beginning of the season, beating No. 2 Maryland and No. 3 Georgetown in Berkeley. After tying Cal 0-0 last year, the Dons were intent on proving their legitimacy to their opponents, and succeeded in doing so until the agonizing finish.
The Dons now embark on a three-game road trip that begins in Sacramento against Sacramento State on Thursday, Sept. 12. USF’s next home game finds them matched up against the University of Portland on Friday, Oct. 4 in the WCC opener.