SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Down 1-0 late in the second half, Sacramento State tied the game on a goal by senior Nate Nugen in the 73rd minute than tallied the winning score on an Alex Bettencourt goal with just 45 seconds left in regulation time for a 2-1 home victory over Portland.
"I was happy with my team today; I thought we played well for the majority of the game," Sacramento State head coach Michael Linenberger said. "Portland is a very good team and they obviously had some good moments as well and scored first. I'm very proud of my team for staying with it, finding the equalizing goal and then the game winner so late, I couldn't ask for anything more."
Playing in his first home game as a Hornet, Bettencourt, a senior transfer, put home a shot in the goal mouth after teammate Brad Bumgarner was initially denied on a diving save by Portland goalkeeper Paul Christensen. It was the second game-winning goal of the season for Bettencourt, who also tallied the lone Hornet goal in the team's 1-0 win at Loyola Marymount last Friday.
Sacramento State (2-3-0) was playing its first home game after two exhibition games and four regular season contests on the road to open the year. Portland (4-2-1) entered the game with just one loss, had scored 12 goals over its first six games of the year, and received votes this week in the national NSCAA Division I Top-25 poll.
"Portland is a very good team and has some very good attacking players," Linenberger added. "As a team we defended well and limited space. Our 1-v-1 defending was very good today and we limited their chances."
The Hornets controlled play for most of the game, outshooting the Pilots by an 8-3 margin in each half. The visitors had the only goal of the first half, though, as in the 32nd minute Eric de Graaf sent a high ball into the Hornet box and Benji Michel chipped it over Hornet goalkeeper James Del Curto as the two collided in the air.
Sacramento State missed a couple of great scoring chances early in the second half but was able to tie it up in the 73rd minute. Off a loose ball in the box freshman Christian Webb made a touch pass to Nugen, who dribbled horizontally and fired a shot home from 8 yards out. The goal was the first for the Hornet senior, who left Sacramento State before returning prior to last year, since his freshman season in 2012.
The home team nearly had the winner off a corner in the 82nd minute. The game remained tied into the 90th before Webb set up his second goal of the game, playing the long ball to Bumgarner that led to Bettencourt's winner.
Nugen led all players in the game with five total shots and three shots on goal. The Hornets permitted just three shots on goal in the game, with Del Curto, the reigning Big West Defensive Player of the Week, making two strong saves for the win.
The two assists from Webb tied for the second most assists in a game in program history, a feat most recently accomplished by senior Ivan Ramirez last season.
Sacramento State returns to Hornet Field to face San José State on Kids Day at noon Sunday. All youth 12 and under will received free admission and can get free team posters and autographs after the game. The Sacramento State women's soccer team will also have a home game on Sunday following the men's match.