Men’s soccer team cruises past Santa Cruz

Marissa Marshall,
Staff Writer

Although it’s been awhile since the California State East Bay men’s soccer team dominated in a match, on Sunday, the Pioneers played their final exhibition game of the season versus UC Santa Cruz (4-8-1 overall) and won.

Ahead of this game, the Pioneers had not won since Sept. 8 when they faced Southern Nazarene, and went 2-0. After that win, East Bay lost eight games in a row and tied their last game.

It’s safe to say the men’s team struggled.

In the first half of the game, the Pioneers maintained possession and looked confident on the field. They attempted five shots but struggled to convert the shots into goals.

In the 33rd minute, junior defender Luis Salazar was able to put the first goal in the back of the net. He received a cross from junior forward Jonathan Cuevas through the top of the box and was able to head it in, which put the Pioneers up 1-0.

That was the only goal of the first half. East Bay outshot the Slugs 5-to-3.

The Pioneers entered the second half with confidence and ready to attack. By the first four minutes, freshman midfielder Grant Lafleur scored his second goal of the season after he made way into the box and scored past the right side of Santa Cruz’s goalkeeper.

“The goal is always a great feeling,” LaFleur recounted. “Especially being a freshman. It’s showing and driving to myself and others that I can compete at the college level.”

East Bay was up 2-0 now, but they weren’t done yet. At the 51 minute mark, the Slugs’ goalkeeper and the defense was pushed up when the Pioneers’ junior goalkeeper Omar Coronel scored a goal from his very own goalkeeper box. Yes, the goalkeeper scored.

The look of people’s faces in the stands of the Pioneer Stadium was one of shock. It isn’t too often you see a goalkeeper score from the other end of the field.

East Bay was on a roll.

At the 59 minute mark, East Bay was able to extend their lead to 4-0 when senior midfielder Christian Mendoza placed a shot in the top corner of the goal.

The excitement on the Pioneers’ faces was refreshing and new. In recent times their faces broadcasted disappointed due to their ongoing losses.

“It’s just so great for us to play like this as a team,” LaFleur said. “It’s a major confidence boost for us to hopefully get some wins to finish out our season.”

Mendoza’s goal would be the final one scored by the Pioneers.

In the 82nd minute, the Slugs were able to score one goal, but that would be all the Pioneers allowed.

East Bay’s record stands at 3-9-2 overall and 0-7-1 in the conference. They have four games left in the season to earn at least one win in conference play.

On Friday, they will travel to Chico State to face the Wildcats (8-4-1, 6-1-1).

“We just have to keep playing at our best and the way we know we can play in order to get wins,” LaFleur said. “We need to finish the way we start and start the way we finish, at our best.”