St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus men’s soccer team suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of UC-Santa Cruz to open the 2012 season on Friday afternoon at the Gustie Soccer Field. UC-Santa Cruz’s Phillip Murphy scored the game-winning goal in the 79th minute to spoil Gustavus’ home-opener and pick up its first win of the season.
“Really excellent game today, a proper game of football with two high quality teams trying to play the right way,” said Head Coach Mike Middleton.
Gustavus had its chances early in the match, controlling possession for much of the opening half. Sophomore forward Zach Brown (Eau Claire, Wis.) had a pair of looks inside the first 15-minutes of the match, but missed high once and was turned away by UC-Santa Cruz goalkeeper Nate Levinson on the second. The Gusties tallied four shots in the opening half.
“I thought we dominated the first half for periods, creating several very useful chances. We looked very good at that stage,” continued Middleton. “The second half, especially at the start was dominated by the opposition, as we struggled to cope with their movement and showed huge signs of fatigue.”
UC-Santa Cruz turned the tables in the second half, outshooting the Gusties 5-2 in the frame. Murphy’s goal broke the scoreless tie at the 79:55 mark after he put the ball past Brett Ylonen (So., Lake Elmo, Minn.) from inside the box on a Zach Hummel feed.
Ylonen suffered the loss after making a total of three saves, one of which was a key turn-away on a Daniel Tirosh breakaway in the 65th minute. Ylonen’s counterpart Nate Levinson picked up his first shutout victory of the year after making two saves.
Gustavus finished with six shots to UC-Santa Cruz’s five. The Banana Slugs had five corner kick opportunities (four of which came in the second half) while Gustavus had three (all in the first half.).
Middleton added. “We gave debuts to five freshmen who all did very well. They are all adjusting to the speed, the decision-making, and the physical demands of the game. So, I am happy with them.”
“As a team we need to learn to hold possession under pressure, move the ball quick and play comfortably in tight spaces. That will come with time, practice and good habits. The result was disappointing, but I am still happy with where we are at the present.”
The Gustavus Classic Invitational will continue on Sunday, Sept. 2 with St. Thomas taking on UC-Santa Cruz at 12:00 p.m. and Gustavus battling Puget Sound at 2:00 p.m.