Chico outlast conference rival in shutout victory

Chico+State+player%2C+Cooper+Renteria+goes+against+Sonoma+State+player%2C+Ulysses+Vega+to+get+the+ball+back.+Photo+credit%3A+Melissa+Herrera

Chico State player, Cooper Renteria goes against Sonoma State player, Ulysses Vega to get the ball back. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

Chico State soccer picks up a huge one score victory to hold on to their playoff hopes against rival Sonoma State Sunday afternoon. Mikey Hirsch put the single, match winning goal through the net midway through the first half to hold off the Seawolves.

“We got off to a fast start,” Matt Hafizi said. “ We got the goal early, credited to Mikey Hirsch putting it away. We knew it was going to be a rival game, a tough battle and we came out fast. I think that’s what helped us today.”

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Cooper Renteria menuvering between Sonoma State defenders. Photo credit: Wesley Harris

Hirsch posted his first goal of the season in the biggest way for the Wildcats. After a header missing by just inches by Justin Bethke, Hirsch found himself in the perfect position for the rebound and shot. It was one of seven shots put up in the first period, to Sonoma’s three.

“He (Bethke) headed it in and hit the top of the post,” Hirsch said. “It bounced down and I was right there waiting for it. I just kind of scissor volleyed it in to go up 1-0. It was a nice first goal of the season for me too.”

Battle for the Ball
Chico State player, Mikey Hirsch, fights back to get the ball from Sonoma State player Ulysses Vega. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

The Wildcats just needed to put up a solid defensive effort to maintain their lead the rest of the match. With the sense of urgency building in Sonoma to keep their own pace and stay in the playoff run, the animosity between both teams was strong. The emotion was seen in the foul count totaling eight for the Wildcats and 11 for the Seawolves.

“There definitely was a lot of individual battles out there, a lot of yellow cards and fouls,” Hafizi said. “We did well managing all of the fouls. We did give some fouls at the top of the box, but we defended well today.”

Cheap Shot
Sonoma State player, Ulysses Vega, kicks Chico State player, Matt Hafizi when the ball comes their way. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

Sonoma continued to pressure the Chico State defense throughout the second half but would not prevail. Even after out shooting the Wildcats by five shots in the second period, it wouldn’t be enough to get past Chico’s lengthy goalkeeper Jose Paredes. He came up with an acrobatic save in the second half to maintain the lead.

“When we get our first goal, we tend to sit back a little bit and that’s when teams try to press us,” Hirsch said. “When we get that first goal, slowly get some attack in there and not just defend for the last 20-30 minutes.”

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Anthony Kaskie recives pass to left side of goalie box. Photo credit: Wesley Harris

The Chico defense held air tight as they shut out the Seawolves. With the next two games being critical for the Wildcats playoff hopes, they still stand confidently to make a deep run for a national title being ranked number 11 in Super Region 4 rankings.

“(The win is) really important, I think Sonoma is number 7, they’re right below us, so us beating them is really important standings wise for CCAA (California Collegiate Athletic Association) ,” Hirsch said. “Going forward we just have to finish these last two games, and we should be in the playoffs.”

Wesley Harris can be reach at [email protected] or @jiggy_wes on twitter.