Sept. 1, 2009
San Diego, Calif. - Junior Rafael Baca got the 2009 season off to a flying start with his first career two-goal game to lift LMU to a come-from-behind 2-1 victory Tuesday afternoon at San Diego State. The Lions (1-0-0) post a win in their season opener for the first time since 2006 while improving to 4-1-1 against the Aztecs (0-1-0) in their last six meetings.
Baca continued to add to his historical ledger this year with his first career multi-goal game. In the preseason, the junior forward became the first player in school history to be named to the Hermann Trophy Watch List, as well as being selected to the inaugural Preseason All-West Coast Conference team.
LMU was out-shot 10-2 in the first half but Baca made one attempt count and saw the other come back off the crossbar. After his 19th-minute shot was rejected by the woodwork, he put the second one away. On the counter-attack from a clearance in the 22nd minute, sophomore Kyle Johanson led Baca down the left side. Baca gathered himself and fired past Brad Byrns into the near post to tie the game at 1-1.
Ten minutes into the second half, Baca made it 2-1 thanks to a defensive miscue. Sophomore Phil Da Silva pounced on a poor clearance and beat his defender, then crossed to Baca, who fired home from 10 yards out. It was the junior's ninth career goal and he is the first LMU player with a two-goal game since Brad Stisser had a pair at Gonzaga on October 22, 2006.
It was the hosts who got off to the better start as SDSU's Devon Sandoval headed over the game's first chance just 90 seconds in. Six minutes later, Sandoval had another look in front of goal but his low shot forced the first save of the game out of senior goalkeeper Patrick Sampson.
The Aztecs would take the lead in the 21st minute when Morgan Sacco advanced the ball on the right side and fed Evan Toft, who one-touched a pass to Daniel Steres. Steres redirected the pass for the game's first goal.
SDSU nearly made it 2-0 just 17 seconds later but LMU was able to weather the storm thanks to Sampson and some heads-up defending. First, Sampson turned away Raymundo Reza's shot from 15 yards out. Thirty seconds later off a corner kick, Reza sent a shot past Sampson but it was cleared off the line by a Lion defender.
San Diego State had one last chance before the half when Sandoval was sent through but Sampson produced a fine one-on-one save to preserve the knotted scoreline going into the locker room. That save would prove to be the turning point of the game as the Lions out-shot the Aztecs the rest of the way, taking the lead on Baca's second strike of the contest.
The Aztecs finished the game with a 15-10 shot advantage and 7-2 on corner kicks, yet Sampson made five saves for the LMU win. Byrns stopped two shots for the Aztecs.
LMU continues its season-opening two-game road trip on Sunday at Cal State Northridge.
- GO LIONS -