SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – After a stretch of 633 days, Sacramento State men's soccer finally returned to the pitch for its first regular season matchup since November of 2019. Despite the excitement around the return, the Hornets fell to San Francisco on the Dons' home pitch, 2-1.
The match was the first of the season for both programs. The Hornets start the year 0-1-0 with the loss while the Dons open 1-0-0.
All of the scoring took place in the first 45, starting with a San Francisco goal in the 17th minute. A miscommunication in the Sacramento State backfield led to a 50/50 ball that was won by the Dons. The result was a breakaway for San Francisco's Nonso Adimabua, who beat Sacramento State goalkeeper Ryan Curtis in a one-on-one situation.
20 minutes later, Sacramento State found its opportunity for the equalizer. After a Hornets throw in, forward Titus Washington made a good move to get inside his defender in the San Francisco box. He was quickly fouled by his defender, taken to the ground, and awarded the penalty kick.
It was Axel Ramirez, playing in his first regular season match for the Hornets, who stepped up to take the kick. Ramirez scored easily, sending one into the bottom right of the net in the 36th minute.
Ramirez, a freshman from Merced, played all 90 minutes in his debut, one of four Hornets to play the entire match.
The two teams continued to battle, playing a back and forth half in which both sides had opportunities. However, it was the Dons regaining the advantage with just seconds remaining in the first half.
A soft volley from midfield drifted over the heads of Sacramento State's back line and was received by a streaking Adimabua. The forward beat his defender and again found himself one-on-one with Curtis. For the second time in the half, Adimabua won the matchup, scoring with just 19 seconds left in the half.
Neither team would score after half time, though neither squad was without its chances. In total, the Dons outshot Sacramento State, 11-8, including a 5-4 advantage in shots on goal. The Hornets led in corner kicks, 5-3, though were also charged with 17 fouls to the Dons' 6. Both Curtis and San Francisco's keeper, Charlie McKay, each made three saves.
Forward Michael Gonzalez, who played just 25 minutes, led Sacramento State with three total shots, including two on goal. Washington took two shots, including one on goal, while three others finished with one shot.
Eight different Hornets made their Sacramento State debut on Thursday, including four who made their first collegiate starts. The team was without two of its veteran starters - midfielder Oscar Govea and defender Tyler Moss - as the two served a Big West suspension due to accumulated yellow cards during the 2019 season.
Sacramento State will remain on the road following Thursday night's match, facing another West Coast Conference opponent on Sunday as the team travels to Santa Clara University to take on the Broncos. Sunday's match is scheduled to kick off at 7:30 p.m.
For the latest men's soccer news, notes, and schedule, be sure to visit the Sacramento State men's soccer homepage online at HornetSports.com.