CSUEB Men’s Soccer Team Holds Out League Leaders, CSUDH in a Goalless Draw

Shubham Sharma, Sports Editor

On Oct. 16, California State University, East Bay’s Men’s Soccer team played their eighth match in the California Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s Soccer tournament against California State University, Dominguez Hills. 

Dominguez Hills’ Toros are off to a fantastic start, having secured five of their seven opening matches. Nevertheless, the Pioneers have a good chance to qualify for the playoffs, as the East Bay team placed sixth in CCAA standings — a major improvement from last year’s performance, during which the team managed to win two games. 

Going into the Oct. 16 game, the Pioneers were keenly aware of the Toros’ aggressive strategy.  Thus, CSUEB fielded a defensive 4-2-4 formation in response, though the formation quickly splintered into a 5-2-3 arrangement when the Toros attacked the CSUEB goal. Dominguez Hills’ midfielder Sulaiman Bah presented an additional challenge for the Pioneers, as the marquee player leads the CCAA goal-scoring chart with 13 goals to his name. Pressured by the Toros’ offensive capability, Pioneer midfielders Drew Gibbons and Danil Menshikov were tasked with creating opportunities for the Pioneers and denying Toros midfielders’ advances simultaneously. As the Toros lead an explosive opener, the proverbial cards seemed to be stacked against the Pioneers as the Toros have never lost to the Pioneers in the CCAA tournament. 

As the game matured, the Toros continued to dominate the possession on offense. CSUEB goalkeeper Zavier Hajdukovich was put to test at the seven minute-mark when CSUDH forward, Michael Mckibbin made a curved shot on goal. Fortunately for the Pioneers, Hajdukovich was up to the task and was able to save the shot. By the end of the first half, the Toros took a total of nine shots on goal, giving off the impression as the team with the best chance at scoring. However, a solid defensive performance and formation tweak seemed to work in favor of Pioneers, as the first half concluded in a 0-0 draw.

By the second half, the Toros had upped their intensity by making quick and precise passes to break the Pioneer defense. Due to CSUDH’s midfield dominance, the Pioneers were struggling to get the ball out of their half of the field. Despite being locked into a defensive position, the Pioneers persevered in carving out goal-scoring opportunities of their own, with Pioneer forward Josh Gaeckle nearly scoring goal at the 56 minute-mark. 

Despite having less ball possession throughout the game and three total shots on goal, the Pioneers were able to bridle the Toros and maintain a 0-0 score. Between the two goalkeepers, Hajdukovich was busier, as he made four crucial saves in the second half to secure a draw for the Pioneers. The CSUEB head coach Mike Bielski expressed his delight in regard to the results of the game, crediting the nil draw to an impressive team effort.