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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Top teams in conference battle in final minutes

Jordan Jackmon and Garrett Hogbin went full sprint for the ball . Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

Chico State men’s soccer lost in heartbreaking fashion to the conference leading Cal Poly Pomona Broncos Friday night. Chico played a fair game until Pomona found a crevice in the net with four minutes to play as the lone score.

“I definitely feel like we came off to a strong start first half,” Forward Noah Ross said. “I definitely feel like we were on them a little bit. We just kept playing hard throughout the whole game.”

Taking the Ball
Samuel Licona tries to take the ball away from Cal Poly Pomona player, Gabriel Castillo. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

Chico State and Cal Poly Pomona entered Friday’s match as the conference leaders in points, evened at 9. With them at the head of the conference, the battle was everything it advertised to be. Even as a defensive match-up, the competition was rampant with excitement.

“Every game is pretty important, but this one definitely hurts a little bit,” Midfielder Alex Fluitt said. “We like to try and beat the best opponents, and by track record, Pomona and LA (California State University, Los Angeles) are the best so we try and get them when we can.”

Corner Kick
Alex Fluitt corner kicks the ball into the game. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

The first half of the match was promising for the Wildcats as they controlled the ball in their territory the majority of the time. The domination near the goal lead to four shots in the first half while the defense held air tight.

Blocking the Kick
Jordan Jackmon tries to stop the goalie Jose Parede's kick. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

Chico thought they found their shot as Alex Fluitt’s knocked one in from the right side of the 8 yard box. A questionable off sides call was made after the Wildcats bench and crowd started their celebration.

“Although we lost, we had some good things going for us,” Fluitt said. “I thought we knocked the ball a lot better than we do. We just didn’t get the goal today.”

The second half featured a more fluid offensive performance from Pomona. They were able to get more shot attempts near their goal as possession was controlled more on their end. Chico’s defense was able to weather the storm to stay in it.

Full Speed
Garrett Jensen and Matt Hafizi ran full speed towards the ball. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

“Most of the time, the backs in our conference usually spill the ball up if you pressure them hard enough,” Ross said. “Our coach does a good job of motivating us to press as a team.”

The intensity continued to grow as the anticipation for a score lingered in the air. Pomona found their answer very late in the match as it seemed apparent the match would go into extra time. Off a corner kick, Jimmie Villalobos softly sneaked a header into the past past the keeper’s finger tips. Chico’s desperate offense was not enough to even the match.

Cal Poly Pomona's Winning Shot
Cal Poly takes the win in the last five minutes of the game. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

“After the loss he (head coach Restrepo) was basically saying, ‘You live and you learn,’” Ross said. “It’s kind of one of those things where you just gotta get back to the chalkboard, (and) keep grinding. We got a big game coming up Sunday too, so if we want to get ourselves to the top spot in the playoffs, we just gotta keep grinding and keep winning.”

The Wildcats look to beat out California State University, San Bernardino at home on Sunday at 2 p.m.

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

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