On a clear Thursday evening at Terry Fox Field, the SFU men’s soccer team opened their season with a 3-0 victory over the Sonoma State University Seawolves. The Clan were dominant in the first of three non-conference matchups in their schedule.
Much like in their three pre-season wins, the Clan put their feet on the gas straight away with blistering pace, dangerous set pieces, and high pressure on and off the ball.
With less than 20 minutes gone in the first half, the ball first found the back of the net after Alex Rowley’s dangerous corner kick was mishandled by the Seawolves goalkeeper Sean Taufer and Clan defender Alexander Kleefeldt pounced inside the box, seizing the opportunity.
This ignited the squad’s momentum instantly, as just moments later the men added another goal from a string of plays by some experienced squad members. Sonoma State’s set piece cross was confidently punched out by Clan keeper Brandon Watson before captain Jovan Blagojevic surged down the left wing to lay off a pass for Ryan Dhillon who had his first attempt saved by Seawolves keeper, but made no mistake on his rebound, taking the score to 2-0.
Additional pressure from Blagojevic was key to the third goal, after the attacker began cutting in from the wing with step-overs before being fouled outside the 18-yard box. The ensuing free kick attempt from the captain was tipped by freshman Niko Schroettle into the back of the net and would be SFU’s final goal.
Brandon Watson provided a fitting end to the first half highlights when the shot-stopper came out big and robbed a Seawolves penalty kick to preserve his clean sheet. Second half proceedings included more goalkeeping heroics, but this time from the Seawolves’ Taufer, who denied a penalty kick struck from Blagojevic at the restart.
In the end, the Clan achieved their victory amidst many rough tackles and yellow cards, much to the excitement of the home crowd.
“I think we’ve come a long way since we started the beginning of pre-season,” said head coach Alan Koch. “I love the character of the group, and the willingness to win, and tonight wasn’t really our best game but I spoke to the guys at half-time and said it’s going to take a mature second half to go out there and get the result.