IRVINE, Calif. – Sacramento State scored twice in the first half and junior goalkeeper James Del Curto made an NCAA Div. I season high 14 saves as the Hornets opened Big West Conference play with a 2-1 win Thursday night at UC Irvine.
Del Curto's 14 saves tied with two other keepers for the most saves made in an NCAA Div. I game this season. He matched his previous career high of 14 stops, which also came in a win against UC Irvine last season in Sacramento.
Freshman Christian Webb scored his first career goal and senior Nate Nugen tallied what ended up being the winning goal for Sacramento State (5-3-1, 1-0-0 Big West), which is unbeaten in its last five games and won its second Big West opener since joining the league in 2012 (also a 2-1 win at UC Irvine). The loss was the sixth in the last seven contests for UC Irvine (2-8-0, 0-1-0 Big West).
The Anteaters tallied 16 shots on goal as the Hornets also had a critical team save late in the second half. UCI had 27 total shots and 12 corner kicks in the game, but the Hornets made the most of their five shots on goal with two first half scores.
Del Curto made seven saves in just the first 15 minutes of the game. In the 19th minute, junior Trevor Jackson gathered a ball left of the UCI goal and found senior Alex Bettencourt, who fed Webb in the right side of the box for his first collegiate goal.
Seven minutes later Jackson set up another Hornet goal. The junior sent a ball from beyond the half line and connected with Nugen. UC Irvine goalkeeper Alex Waldron came out to challenge but Nugen got past him and rolled in his third goal of the season.
Del Curto finished with eight saves in the first half and was up to 10 saves early in the second half. The Anteaters had a shot hit the post in the 47th minute and found their lone goal in the 57th minute when Thomas Janjigian was able to volley in a cross from teammate Giovanni Godoy.
In the 65th minute UC Irvine got a shot past Del Curto off a scramble in the box but the Hornet defense was able to clear off the goal line. Del Curto made four more saves late in the half to finish the Hornet win.
Jackson now was four assists on the year, tying him with senior Ivan Ramirez for the team lead. The Hornets have scored multiple goals in four of their last five games, tallying 11 goals in that stretch after scoring just two goals through the first four games of the season.
Sacramento State, which is ranked 8th in the latest NSCAA Far West Region poll, continues Big West play Saturday night at CSUN. The Matadors also won their conference opener Thursday night, beating UC Davis 2-1 on a pair of PK goals.