SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – The Saint Mary's men's soccer team equaled its largest-ever margin of victory against the University of San Francisco with a 4-1 win over the Dons in a mid-week match tonight at Negoesco Stadium.
Saint Mary's improved to 4-4-3 on the season and remained the top of the West Coast Conference standings with an undefeated 2-0-1 mark. USF fell to 3-5-2 overall and 0-2-1 in the WCC.
The Gaels return to action Sunday with a 2 p.m. home kickoff against longtime South Bay rival Santa Clara. To purchase advance tickets, visit the Tickets link on SMCGaels.com or call (925) 631-GoTx (4689). Team and group packages are available. All youth on Sunday can receive $1 admission by wearing their team jersey.
Saint Mary's outshot the Dons by a narrow 13-10 margin, but enjoyed a 7-2 advantage in shots on frame. SMC goalkeeper Andre Rawls was relatively untested, forced into just one save on the night. USF attempted five corner kicks, compared to four for the Gaels.
The 4-1 scoreline was the largest margin of victory for the Gaels ever in the series against the Dons, equaling to a 4-1 win in 2001. Eight of the previous nine games in the series were decided in overtime and 13 of the previous 14 by one goal or fewer.
"In general, our team has been training really well and that's where it all starts," said SMC head coach Adam Cooper. "We knew what we had to do from minute one. Our guys were focused and they came out and executed our game plan. Our energy, physicality and intelligence - we came out and played a full 90 minutes."
The Gaels got on the board in the eighth minute when junior Ismail Adam received the ball just outside the penalty area. He connected with Michael Semenza, who was making a run from the left side, and the Encinitas, Calif. native tapped the ball into the bottom right side of the goal.
Semenza’s score was his first of the season and the second of his career.
"I really didn't do too much on that goal," said Semenza. "J-How (Justin Howard) was at the top of the box, he took a shot and I was there for a follow-up. I found myself in the right spot.
"We've had three big games to start conference and we got seven points. I think we are at the top of the table and we need to keep it going. Everyone is working hard. We are coming together as a team."
Less than two minutes later, Will Kendall sent a corner kick that USF failed to clear. The ball landed at the feet of Alex Braman, who scored his third goal in as many games on a driving shot past Dons keeper Chase Hauser.
Ismail Adam added a third goal for the Gaels in the 45th minute. He intercepted a USF clearance off a SMC throw-in, took one touch and his driving low shot from the top of the penalty area squeezed between several Dons defenders and past the keeper. It was his team-leading third goal of the season.
USF pulled one back in the 50th minute when Jesus Del Toro scored his second goal of the season.
Kendall extended the Gaels' lead to 4-1 in the 69th minute. After Semenza was taken down on a breakaway opportunity, USF's Kevin Gould was issued the only yellow card of the match. Kendall took the ensuing free kick from approximately 40 yards out and it bounced over the last line of USF defense and into the goal.