Derby Delight: CSUEB Men’s Soccer Team Claim Bragging Rights in Derby Win Against San Francisco State University

Shubham Sharma, Sports Editor

Derbies are always a special occasion, granting teams the opportunity to prove themselves worthy of the title as the “best” team between the two rivalries. With a flock of watchful fans in anticipation of a riveting derby, the historic “Battle of the Bridge” between San Francisco State and California State University, East Bay did not disappoint.
SFSU entered this year’s derby as fan favorites, boasting an impressive 66% win probability against CSUEB. With a percentage this high, SFSU’s Gators were confident that they had the upper hand when faced against CSUEB’s Pioneers. The match started off strong as both teams exhibited aggression and strategic attacks in the early minutes of the first half. The match had a traditional derby feel to it and both teams made a lot of advancements early on in the game. Although the game was at an even nil, the Pioneers were focused, engaging in frequent counter attacks as they searched for an opening to strike.
The Pioneers’ patience paid off as Josh Gaeckle — assisted by Aaron Farnan and Daniil Menshikov — drew first blood when he scored the opening goal at the 26 minute-mark, securing himself a third California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Men’s Soccer tournament point since last year’s season. This was only the third time that Gaeckle had scored in the CCAA tournament and exactly one year and a day since he scored his last goal in the CCAA tournament for the Pioneers.
Wounded but not defeated, SFSU rebounded quickly, probing the Pioneer defense for weaknesses to exploit via aggressive offense. The Gators came close to equalizing the score at the 31-minute-mark when SFSU forward Julio Gonzales Ponce was challenging the goalkeeper head-to-head but he failed to make his shot on goal.
To maintain their lead, the Pioneers defended deep in their half, yielding a lot of ball possession to the opposition. In response, SFSU increased their intensity and looked to breach the Pioneer defense, recording a total of 14 shots on goal with the majority of their shots coming from the second half. SFSU forward Ponce came close to scoring twice in the second half, but was denied both times by Pioneer goalkeeper Zavier Hajdukovich, who had one of the best games in his CSUEB career so far. Pioneers were put to test in the dying minutes of the game when SFSU had two clear goal-scoring opportunities, though the Gators failed to keep the shot on target.
Ultimately, the game concluded in favor of the Pioneers in what was a statement win for CSUEB. For the first time since 2019, the Pioneers had registered back-to-back wins in the CCAA tournament. As for now, Pioneers can claim bragging rights against their nemesis San Francisco State University and relish in their victory for a little while longer.