Chico State Wildcat Men’s Soccer is back with a vengeance coupled with a strong defensive stand


Javier Hernandez

The starting lineups for Thursday’s game

For the first time since Nov.12, 2019, the Wildcats finally took the pitch in front of their fans at University Soccer Stadium against the Western Washington Vikings last Thursday. 

It was a defensive battle. The go ahead and only goal of the match decided the outcome in favor of the Wildcats. 

“It is just wonderful to be back at University Stadium playing the game we love, couldn’t be any more proud of the guys’ effort tonight,” said Head Coach Felipe Restrepo after Thursday’s win. 

The game was back and forth right from the kickoff for a majority of the first half. The defense came out strong for both the Wildcats and the Vikings. Then 29 minutes in, forward Jacob Chong shot a strike to the bottom left of the Vikings goal, and scored the game’s only goal. 

“We all know Jacob is a very talented player and when he is laser focused, it is pretty hard to beat him,” Restrepo said. “He’s got a different factor to him and when he is ready to go it is fun to watch.”

The Vikings started off the second half aggressively and had two shots on goal within the first five minutes, but the Wildcat defense stayed stout. 

In the 59th minute, Camron Miller from the Vikings committed a hard foul on Wildcat midfielder Mauro Rafael that resulted in a red card. After that Chico controlled the game with the help of one more player than the Vikings. 

”My style of play, at times when we need to calm down the tempo of the game, I could calm it down,” Rafael said. “When it is time to get dirty, I get stuck in and I think those are my advantages.”

The Wildcat defense was the story of the game, only allowing three shots on goal. The back four was very substantial and controlled all the counterattacks and long balls the Vikings were sending their way. 

Photo by Javier Hernandez
#4 Servando Higuera walking towards the ball after winning a challenge versus the Vikings #24 Alessandro Tomassi

“The defense played very well tonight, we gave it our all,” said defender Servando Higuera.

With a younger group of players, this team showed great chemistry and resilience throughout the game. The energy was present at University Soccer Stadium tonight, the crowd was in the game and so were the sidelines. The Wildcats are here to stay. 

With a sour taste in their mouths from their loss in the California Collegiate Athletic Association tournament back in 2019, the first victory of the season helped cure the team from their last official game. 

After not being able to play soccer for the past two years, the Wildcats wanted to start off with a foot in the right direction. Beating a formidable opponent like the Vikings, who beat Division 1 Gonzaga during their pre-season match up, is the confidence boost the Wildcats need to kick- start their season. 

“Pretty surreal experience, this was a helluva game. This game is huge for the end of the year rankings,” forward Cooper Renteria said. “To get a win was huge for the team to start off the season on a positive note. We are going to enjoy it tonight, and then get ready to go after it on Saturday vs. SPU.” 

Thursday’s game was just a preview of what the Wildcats want to accomplish this season. The Wildcats host Seattle Pacific University this Saturday at University Soccer Stadium at 7 p.m. 
Javier Hernandez can be contacted at [email protected] or @jhm1226 on Twitter