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The Orion

Men’s soccer sweeps home stand

Junior Ronan McEnroe clears the ball to the other end of the field amongst Humboldt State defenders on Sunday Photo credit: Keelie Lewis

Chico State flourished in a 2-0 win over rival Humboldt State Sunday afternoon, extending their winning streak to three games. The team dominated in controlling the ball, leaving a light load of work for the backline.

Chico State came into the match Sunday riding two straight wins, lastly in a 1-0 match against Sonoma State. They were ranked fifth in the California Collegiate Athletic Association. As the elite teams are in an ambitious sprint to the top of the conference.

The Chico State offense was in full effect early versus a struggling Humboldt State squad. The Wildcats spread the ball throughout the field with seemingly everyone getting a touch.

The vast ball movement lead to the Wildcats’ staggering 14 shot attempts in the first half. Off a corner kick in the 37th minute of action, Michael Hirsch found the back of the net after two blocked attempts from teammates in the mouth of the goal.

“They press really high and we knew we had the speed to get around them,” Joshua Belda said. “Once we got around we knew we had guys on the back post to try to get those crosses in for shots.”

Midfielder Esten Schroeder makes a touch on the ball Sunday against Humboldt State Photo credit: Keelie Lewis

The Wildcats sustained their scrappy efforts on the defensive side of the ball. They are tied for second in the conference in goals allowed after delivering their seventh shutout of the season.

The resiliency of the backline once again rattled the opposing team as tempers flared from both sides.

“We definitely have some grit, coach recruits guys like that,” Belda said. “When it’s not going our way, sometimes we want to bring the physicality to the game. Once we start doing that the game goes our way.”

Jeremiah Egujie came through for Chico in the 49th minute, knocking in his eighth score of the season. A throw from Belda set up the goal, as Egujie craftily maneuvered between two Humboldt defenders from the top corner of the 18 yard box.

With their lead extended to two scores, Chico’s bench provided some rest and closed out the game.

“We need to give a lot of players some time,” assistant coach Len Findlay said. “As we get toward the playoffs, our players are in tune with the rest of the team.”

Chico State defender, Joshua Belda looks to pass the ball against Humboldt State on Sunday. Photo credit: Keelie Lewis

Chico State advanced in the CCAA rankings, and are now tied for third place with Cal State San Bernardino. Only four games remain on Chico’s schedule before entering the postseason. The race to reign over the rest of the conference are in the sights of the team.

“It’s cliche, but it’s the next game…we look at what we need to do to perform well in the next game,” Findlay said. “We want to play defensively well, which is what we have been doing, and take our chances.”

Chico’s next match will be on the road on Wednesday, Oct. 17 against Stanislaus State for a 7 p.m. start.

Wesley Harris can be reached at [email protected], @flacko_flame on twitter, and @jiggy_wes on Instagram

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