HAYWARD, Calif. - The Cal State East Bay men's soccer team gave up just one goal against Cal Poly Pomona on Friday afternoon, but the single score was just enough as the Broncos snuck past the Pioneers, 1-0, at Pioneer Field. An injury-riddled CSUEB squad battled to the end, but could not find the back of the net and continues its hunt for its first CCAA victory.
"We have a lot of injuries and players in positions that they are not used to," Head Coach Andy Cumbo said. "The guys are fighters and never gave up."
The opening half saw both squads create some decent opportunities and set the tone for a physical match. Early on, Cal State East Bay created a chance, as midfielder Chris Prado brought the ball into the box before a pair of Cal Poly Pomona defenders won the ball back to clear it.
The Pioneers earned eight free kicks in the first frame and notched six shots to Pomona's five, but could not find the back of the net. Bronco keeper Ryan Thomas needed three saves to keep East Bay scoreless in the first 45 minutes, and faced three corner kicks in the half. On the other end, the Broncos struggled to put a ball on target, as freshman keeper Cesar Villa didn't make a save in the opening frame.
The Broncos came out of the break looking to score. East Bay second-half substitution Billy Morales stepped up in goal, making four saves in 45 minutes. The Broncos got a good chance in the 67th minute, as Dustin Suppe saw his shot cleared off the goal line by a header from Pioneer freshman defender Ryan Herriage.
With the momentum shifting the Broncos' way, Suppe put away the game winner in the 70th minute, heading home a corner kick from Miguel Abascal to beat East Bay second-half keeper Billy Morales. The goal was Suppe's fifth of the season and gave the Broncos the 1-0 lead.
The Broncos continued to work in the Cal State East Bay end, pressuring Morales and the backline. Suppe and midfielder Derek Lindsey combined to force Morales to make another three saves in the final 20 minutes. Morales also got help from the woodwork, making two second-half saves that deflected off his hands and clanged off the frame to keep the Broncos out of the back of the net.
The Pioneers, however, were not deterred, as they turned up the offensive pressure in the final minutes of the match. Freshman defender Jeff Nolan had two of East Bay's best chances of the match with less than five minutes remaining. The first came in the 88th minute when the Pioneer's won a free kick in the Pomona end and freshman midfielder Tyler Andersen played a ball into the box, where Nolan's header was pushed over the bar by Thomas. With less than a minute left, Nolan got his head on a ball in the box again, nearly sending junior Aric Johnson's long throw into the back of the net, missing just wide.
"Jeff [Nolan] had some good chances at the end," Cumbo said. "We just couldn't close the deal."
Despite being without the services of several key players, including leading scorer Michael Rossi and center back Andy Pauley, the Pioneers managed to hang with Cal Poly Pomona, notching 13 shots to the Broncos' 16. Suppe and Lindsey led Pomona with three shots apiece, while Nolan paced the Pioneers with three strikes of his own.
Defensively, Thomas needed six saves to post his second blank sheet of the season. For Cal State East Bay, Morales notched four saves while Villa didn't need a stop to hold the Broncos scoreless in the opening frame.
Cal State East Bay returns to action this Sunday, playing host to Cal State San Bernardino at Pioneer Field. The Pioneers will be looking to return the favor after falling to the Coyotes in San Bernardino earlier this season. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.
"We play a strong team on Sunday," Cumbo said. "We're looking forward to getting back on the field."