Chico State men’s soccer remains undefeated

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Justin Bethke defending a Fresno Pacific player Photo credit: Wesley Harris

Chico State couldn’t have found a better way to seek revenge against Fresno Pacific in a 3-0 shutout for the Wildcats. Both squads were looking to settle unfinished business after a 2-2 draw in last year’s match-up against each other. It was a match that stretched beyond just the game and featured a list of red and yellow cards for both teams. The same animosity towards each other continued in Friday night’s extremely physical match.

“Going into this game, we learned a lot from last year,” midfielder Ronan McEnroe said. “We had to be the more mature, professional team. We didn’t make the ref a factor. We didn’t make bickering between ourselves a factor. We eliminated that all.”

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Teammates celebrate with Ronan McEnroe after scoring 2nd goal of the match. Photo credit: Wesley Harris

Jose Paredes notched his first collegiate shutout with three total saves. The match saw three different Wildcats scoring including one from freshman Noah Ross as his first career goal. The first two scores were delivered by Garrett Hogbin and McEnroe.

“When you have guys all across the board who are able to score that just speaks to the depth of the team,” McEnroe said, “That’s what you want early on in the season. Ross came in as a freshman, the kid’s only 18 and got his first goal tonight.”

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Freshman Noah Ross attempts shot from middle of 18 yard box. Photo credit: Wesley Harris

The first half of the match consisted of a very competitive matchup. Considering the events from last season’s tie, it was clear both teams wanted this win badly. Scoring opportunities were provided on both sides of the ball, but would finally be delivered in minute 20. Chico took full advantage of their first corner kick chance as Servando Higuera transferred a rolling pass to the left post for Hogbin to tap in an easy one.

McEnroe would come through for the Wildcats in minute 43 to provide some cushion for the team. After a saved header from his teammate, McEnroe would clean the mess as the ball came towards the right post for another easy poke in.

The defense was a huge factor in Friday night’s win even through Fresno Pacific’s solid offensive sets. The Wildcats were able to survive two clear shots from the Sunbirds because Paredes’ impressive two saves in the first half. Paredes would be supported by a great defensive game from defender Justin Bethke.

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Chico State defending a set play from Fresno Pacific Photo credit: Wesley Harris

“I think it the most confident I’ve ever been,” Paredes said. “The defenders, to the mid field, to the offense. It starts all the way from the top, we just defend together and it makes me feel so comfortable in the back.”

The second half for the Wildcats became an easy-going affair as they defended their 2 score lead. The game became increasingly chippy as Fresno Pacific could not find a way to shorten the gap.

Chico had a chance to get bench players into the rotation. The bench provided even more of a spark as freshman Noah Ross had an undefended shot from the 15 yards out on the right side of the field.

“The key for it is to put teams away in the first half, play as a team, have great communication, and just adjust to the game,” Paredes said.

Chico will play their next match against the Academy of Art Sunday as they hope to stretch their 3-0 undefeated record.

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