The men’s soccer team went out on a high-note last Friday against Azusa Pacific as they won 2-1 in double overtime on a last-minute goal by Eduardo Gallardo. The Sea Lions finished third out of fourteen schools in the PacWest Conference behind Concordia and Dixie State with 25 points and have also been undefeated in their last seven games, giving them a final record of 9-5-4 overall and 8-4-1 in the conference.
When asked what went wrong during the season, forward Nico Tagaloa stated, “Most of the things that went wrong were results early in the season… the second half of the season we did really well but the first half of the season, especially the first quarter, we dropped points that we shouldn’t have. I don’t think there was really any team that we played that was better than us but at the end of the day it’s all about the result… Not making it to the tournament [and] not winning conference would definitely be something we did wrong.”
Midfielder Andrew Ritchie added, “There were a few things that could have gone better; just decision-making at important times, limiting mistakes and probably taking more chances in dangerous areas… Altogether just being more clinical… in the fact that if you get a chance you make sure you take it, or if there’s a time where you can’t make a mistake you don’t make a mistake.”
Still, the team has played impressively this season and the team’s standing gets higher every year. When asked about what went right with the team this year, Ritchie answered, “I think we bonded well as a team [and] things went really well in the team moral and the togetherness.” “We definitely grew a lot and we got the culture of our team right this year,” Tagaloa added. “This will be the first year we’ve had no problems within the team or outside of the team. That’s really brought us a lot closer… I know it’s a team based on love and I think that we display that on the field… Even though we didn’t get a lot of the results we wanted, we played well. I just felt a lot closer to my team this year than I have since in the past so I would just say that what went right is we just played for each other this year.”
Overall, the season had several memorable highlights for the men’s team. “The night game we had against Concordia, that was really a great highlight… Senior day when we beat Fresno 6-2, that was a really great game, too.” Ritchie reminisced.
Tagaloa reflected on some additional moments as highlights in the year. “Winning [our] home opener was such a fun moment to share with the boys because it was the first game and we’d been training all preseason for it… emotions [were] high and [we won] the first game in front of a good crowd… Also, we won our night game in front of everybody, and that was really sweet. And we had a nice Hawaii trip to cap off the end of our season and we went undefeated there, so those would be highlights of [our] season as a team.”
There were also a few key players to the team this year. “I feel like I’d be leaving people out, but definitely I would just put a lot of emphasis on our defense because those are the guys that’d been the strong point of our team with Michael in the goal and then Brady, Josh, Tyler and Mitch back there… They hold down the fort for us all the time.”
Goalie Michael Lambert shutout four games and ended the season with 47 total saves. Tagaloa himself also got quite a bit of recognition this year, earning San Diego’s Star of the Month Award as well as getting PacWest honors and being named by NCAA Player of the week. “Personally, I know I set some goals at the beginning of the season and I achieved them,” Tagaloa states. “I scored more than I did last season and picked up some awards along the way and I was happy about that, but I know it was only possible because of my teammates setting me up.”
Although the season has come to an end, the recent success is something the men’s team can certainly build off of. Next year will be one to look forward to, especially with a legitimate chance to be PacWest champions.