The Slippery Rock Men’s Soccer team showed gritty defense and solid goaltending in its 1-0 playoff victory over California (Pa.) Tuesday.
The Rock has not allowed a goal in its last four games, the last goal scored against SRU coming on October 17 against West Chester. On Tuesday, a combination of goaltender Steven Rerick, the Rock defense and an unusual contributor Justin Minda, kept the shutout streak alive.
Minda is a midfielder, but he may have made the biggest save of the evening on Tuesday.
With The Rock nursing their 1-0 lead, a header off of a corner kick by Cal U looked like it had a clear path to the net. However, Minda was hugging the post and made the save in the 85th minute of the second half. A goal like that might have given Cal U all the momentum, and SRU could have been in trouble.
“Anytime you keep a clean sheet on defense it is great,” SRU head coach Andy Hoggarth said. “The effort was phenomenal and Justin Minda had a great save. That is why we put people on the post.”
Even though Minda had the huge save of the night, Rerick had a solid night in his own right.
Rerick made six saves, and had to handle a barrage of Vulcan shots early in the second half. The Vulcans had 10 shots early in the second half, but Rerick and the Rock defense fought them off.
“We stayed focused defensively,” Hoggarth said. “We worked hard, and stayed on all game.”
The Green and White offense stayed on as well, and even though it didn’t have many chances, it stayed focused and finally got the hard work to convert into a goal in the 82nd minute. A pass from Stephen McConahy found the foot of Matt Sangermano, and Sangermano placed it perfectly in the upper right hand side of the goal.
The goal is nothing new to Sangermano, who has a team-leading nine goals this season, and seven goals in their last four games. The assist was McConahy’s third of the season.
Although Cal U held the advantage in shots (13-7), shots on goal (8-4) and corner kicks (6-4), The Rock stuck to its hard work and finished strong. Hoggarth believes his team just needs to stick to the way they know how to play Friday, as it will travel to Erie to face top-seeded Mercyhurst.
“We need to keep trusting our style of play,” Hoggarth said. “We were worried about scouting the other team early on in the season, but now we just need to focus on what we do well.”
Hoggarth is hoping to see a performance that has his team walking out of Mercyhurst with a chance to play in the finals of the PSAC tournament. The Rock lost to Mercyhurst 1-0 earlier this season, but SRU will certainly be looking for a different outcome on Friday.