Men’s soccer successful on senior day


Chico State seniors and their families pose for a picture before the game against UC San Diego on Saturday. Photo credit: Connor Mcpherson

Despite some questionable officiating, the Chico men’s soccer team was able to come away, not only with a 2-0 victory, but also with home-field advantage for the first round of the playoffs. Although they didn’t know it at the time, this game ended up being the first of two straight matchups with the UCSD Tritons; with the second being in round one of the California Collegiate Athletic Association playoffs.

The game started in UCSD’s advantage, as they controlled the ball for most of the first ten minutes or so. However, as they usually do, Chico men’s soccer struck back, scoring on a great assist from Jeremiah Egujie to Justin Bethke. This marks Bethke’s first goal of the season and Egujie’s first assist, and it was a pivotal moment in the game.

“I was in the right position, and my forward just looked up, saw me there and passed it right to me,” Bethke said.

After this goal, Chico gained momentum, and scored just seven minutes later, on a goal from Garrett Hogbin. From this point on, it was all defense, as Damion Lewis made a couple of impossible saves from inside the box. This was his final regular season game, and he went out on top, making plays on nearly every defensive possession.

Chico State midfielder Alex Fluitt looks to pass the ball against UC San Diego on Saturday. Photo credit: Connor Mcpherson

“It’s a great feeling, it’s one more than we had last year, and that was the goal,” Lewis said. “It’s always good to keep clean sheets, and that’s what we want every game.”

This was also the last regular season game for 8 other players, who were all celebrated before the game started.

“I can’t be any more proud of our veteran group and our seniors,” Coach Felipe Restrepo said about the seniors. “They’ve been great leaders all season long, but they’ve been motivated, they’ve worked hard their whole career. This is their culminating experience, but I think if you look at their track record, they’ve just been winners since day one. I can’t be any more proud of them.”

“It’s all about their composure,” Bethke said about his older teammates. “They do well under pressure, and I think that’s something I can learn from them and pass down to people younger than me.

Despite the win, the team did seem frustrated with the officiating. And to their point, there were six yellow cards given out during this game. Lewis was especially frustrated with the calls, and he made his voice heard.

Chico State senior Esten Schroeder chases after the ball in a game against UC San Diego on Saturday. Photo credit: Connor Mcpherson

“It was tough to manage trying to keep our heads,” Lewis said. “We had a couple cards in the second half, but we ended up dealing with it eventually,”

Chico was able to pull through and win despite there being some controversial calls. Their next game will be a rematch, as they will take on UCSD in the first round of the CCAA playoffs on Tuesday, Oct. 30.

“When we’re at our best, we’re hard to beat, we’ll take on anyone, anywhere,” Restrepo said. “You play a season to get a good seed to host in front of the fans and family, and be at home in our own beds, so we feel like we’ve earned that and we’re excited to play a playoff game at home. I hope everyone from the community comes out.”

Connor McPherson can be reached at [email protected] or @theGOATMcphers1 on Twitter.