It has been said that a tough loss tests a team’s character. In that case, the San Diego State men’s soccer team’s character is being tested.
After suffering a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to cross-town rival University of San Diego, SDSU (1-1-1) looks to refocus and move forward as it plays host to The Courtyard Marriott San Diego Central Soccer Tournament this weekend.
“The loss to USD was extremely disappointing, but we will bounce back,” redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Blake Hylen said. “We are very resilient and mentally strong. It’s going to take more than a loss like that to get us down.”
The Aztecs will have the chance to show their resiliency when they take the field against Manhattan College (0-2) tomorrow. The Jaspers, hailing from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, are currently winless on the season. Even worse, they have yet to score a goal.
Led by 12 new players, including 10 freshmen, Manhattan College hopes to improve on the struggles of last season by relying on veteran leadership.
Team captain and senior defender Christopher Holihan anchors the defense, while assistant team captain and sophomore midfielder Daniel Festa paces the offense. Backing up Holihan and Festa will be returning MAAC All-Rookie Team goalkeeper Chris Lands.
“We hope that by adding depth to the squad and ensuring players are more prepared physically and emotionally for the year ahead, we will step forward and Jaspers soccer will regain the success it once had,” head coach Ashley Hammond said in an interview with gojaspers.com.
Yet, despite its optimism, Manhattan College faces an Aztec team with far more experience and explosiveness on both sides of the field.
Senior defender and co-captain Daniel Steres and Hylen lead a lockdown defense that has only allowed 5 goals on 25 shots.
The offense is led by freshman midfielder Tyler Smith, sophomore forward Miles Byass and redshirt sophomore forward Jordan Ongaro. Smith leads the team in goals with two, while Byass leads in shots with 14 and assists with two.
If the Aztecs are able to keep their pace up throughout the match and capitalize on the mistakes of an inexperienced opponent, they have a very good chance of keeping the Jaspers scoreless and walking away with a victory.