San Diego State junior midfielder Jose Altamirano limped his way back to the team bench after the final whistle of Sunday’s game.
He was in pain, and he had every right to be. It had been a physical game complete with slide tackling and shoving, but Altamirano and the Aztecs stayed strong and upset the 21st-ranked University of Pennsylvania Quakers 2-0 at the SDSU Sports Deck.
“We knew it was going to be a fight,” Altamirano said. “We were motivated. It was a battle, but we pulled it off.”
Altamirano earned Man of the Match honors by scoring both of SDSU’s goals from assists by redshirt senior midfielder and co-captain Pedro Adan and junior midfielder Abraham Villon.
The Aztecs (3-1-1) outshot Penn, a team that went to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year, by a count of 10-7, while the Quakers (2-2) led in corner kicks, 4-2.
The SDSU defense, consisting of senior co-captain Daniel Steres, redshirt senior Justin Davies, sophomore Casey Meuser and freshman Tyler Smith, held strong against a Penn team that was ranked in two national polls.
“We accomplished what we needed to do,” SDSU head coach Lev Kirshner said. “Winning 2-0 and maintaining the shutout was critical. What took place out there today was execution by the players. They got it done; they got a great victory against a ranked team.”
With the win, SDSU claimed its first outright title of the Courtyard Marriott San Diego Central Tournament.
Previously, the Aztecs shared the title with Penn in 2009 and finished second to UC Irvine last season because of goal differential. SDSU is now 6-1-1 all-time in the tournament’s four-year history.
Altamirano was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player after scoring three goals in two games.
Other Aztecs named to the all-tournament team were redshirt sophomore midfielder John Pegg, Steres, Meuser and Adan. Steres was named Most Valuable Defensive Player as a freshman in 2008 and an all-tournament selection in 2009.
The Aztecs are back in action this weekend when they hit the road to play Oral Roberts at 6 p.m. on Friday and Houston Baptist at 7 p.m. on Sunday.