The Dons wrapped up their two-game homestand with a 1-0 loss to the Loyola Marymount Lions after defeating the San Diego Toreros 1-0 two days earlier on an overtime goal by junior forward Miguel Aguilar. USF (6-8-2, 3-4-1 WCC) has three road games and one home game left this season.
On Sunday afternoon, the Dons put forth an admirable effort against Loyola Marymount, the top team in the West Coast Conference. The score remained tied at 0-0 throughout the first half and well into the second. In the first 45 minutes, the Dons emphasized defense and strong goalkeeping from freshman Connor Gaal to keep the Lions (10-3-2, 6-1-1) at bay.
“I thought it was a terrific first half,” head coach Erik Visser told USFDons.com. “LMU is a very good team. They are very athletic, played with urgency, they have a lot of dynamic players in the final third but I thought we really shut them down in the first half.”
The Dons continued their impressive play coming out of halftime, but were dealt a blow in the 66th minute when Aguilar suffered an injury. Sensing a chance to tilt the game in their favor, the Lions finally broke through in the 80th minute, when Jack McCracken sent a shot on the ground into the left side of the goal. Gaal had four saves on the night, but McCracken’s nicely placed kick went just past his outstretched hands.
Dons senior forward Michael Shaddock nearly evened the score four minutes later, but his long range shot was just high, sailing over the goal post as USF fans’ momentary hope turned to disappointment. From then on, Loyola Marymount was able to maintain its slim advantage, and Dons ended the game scoreless.
On Friday, the Dons were on the victorious side of a 1-0 match, beating San Diego on a game-ending goal by Aguilar. It was a satisfying win for the Dons, who stifled the Toreros offense for the second time this season, having defeated them 2-0 on Oct. 18.
The Dons, who have lost six games by only one goal each so far this year, almost experienced another heartbreaking loss at the hands of San Diego. In the 88th minute, the Toreros’ Keegan Smith had a good look at the goal, but his shot’s path was interrupted by Gaal, who recorded six saves on the evening.
After 90 minutes of play, the score was deadlocked at 0-0, and both teams entered overtime desperate to score the elusive winning goal. Just three minutes into the first ten-minute period, the Dons struck gold, as Aguilar’s shot bounced off of the Toreros goalkeeper and found its place in the back of the net as the crowd erupted. Aguilar was hoisted onto the shoulders of his fellow teammates, and the celebration ensued as San Diego players looked on in shock.
The 93rd-minute goal provided an exhilarating finish to a game where USF was not always in top form. The Dons took just five shots all game, but still willed themselves to a win in a display of grittiness and persistence.
“I’m proud of the guys,” Visser told USFDons.com. “We got a good shutout, a great goal by Miguel [Aguilar]. Sometimes you don’t play pretty or effective and today was a good win for us.”
The final score for USF’s match at Saint Mary’s on Wednesday, Nov. 6 was not available at press time. San Francisco now returns home for their final game at Negoesco Stadium, which comes against rival Santa Clara on Sunday, Nov. 18 at 1:00 p.m.