M. Soccer Downs Santa Clara in Mid-Week Friendly, 3-2

Travis Nicklaw scored the Aztecs' second goal on Wednesday vs. Santa Clara.
Aug. 17, 2016

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego State men's soccer team got its first taste of the 2016 campaign on Wednesday with a thrilling 3-2 triumph over Santa Clara in a preseason friendly at SDSU Sports Deck.

The match featured two 35-minute periods and one 30-minute frame on a sun-baked Montezuma Road, as the Aztecs faced a Bronco squad that returned 20 letterwinners and five starters from last season after advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

"I think our team showed great determination today and I was very pleased with our resiliency," said SDSU head coach Lev Kirshner. "I was also very happy that we were able to use all of our players who were eligible and get them some valuable minutes. There were a lot of intangibles to take away from today, which will give us a springboard for our next friendly at Cal State Northridge on Sunday."

After a scoreless first period, the Aztecs drew first blood on a header by redshirt junior Dallin Cutler from the left side of the net with 13:27 elapsed in the second stanza. Just over five minutes later, Santa Clara got the equalizer on a penalty kick by Edsona Cardona.

SDSU reclaimed the lead in the third period when a strike by redshirt senior Travis Nicklaw found space in the lower right corner of the cage with nearly six minutes gone by. However, the Broncos levelled the contest after a free kick later in the frame, with Andres Jimenez converting through heavy traffic at the 16:20 mark.

With just over five minutes left in the contest, the Aztecs went ahead to stay thanks to the efforts of redshirt freshman Pablo Pelaez, who launched a shot into the net from 20 yards away after a feed from redshirt senior Sergio Enriquez.

Both teams utilized three goalkeepers on the day with SDSU's Anthony Macias and Max Watkin making two saves apiece in the first and second periods, respectively.

"Santa Clara did a great job in making things difficult for us on our initial possession and kept us from establishing a rhythm on our attack," Kirshner said. "We also have to get better on deadballs. We gave up two today and those could negatively impact a season. But we were able to overcome those with great resolve and ended up making more plays than they did."

The Aztecs will play one more exhibition on Sunday when it travels to Cal State Northridge on Sunday, starting at 7 p.m. PT. SDSU officially opens its 2016 regular season the Gonzaga Soccer Tournament in Spokane, Wash., with matches against first-time adversaries UIC (Aug. 26) and Bradley (Aug. 28).

MAN OF THE MATCH: Redshirt freshman Pablo Pelaez is the Aztecs' Man of the Match after notching one goal and one assist on Wednesday vs. Santa Clara. "Pablo changed the game when he went in at the No. 6 position," Kirshner added. "It wasn't on our specific agenda, but he dictated our rhythm and gave us a better possession. He had a great day."

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