SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento State forward Benji kikanovic scored his first goal of the season and then would not stop, recording the hat trick Thursday night as the Hornets defeated the visiting San Francisco Dons, 4-2.
With the win, Sacramento State improves to 5-2 on the season, including 2-1 at home. The Dons, meanwhile, fall to 2-4 on the year.
Kikanovic's hat trick was just the fifth ever in Sacramento State men's soccer Division I history and the first since 2004. Kikanovic joins Jamel Mitchell (twice), Martin Sims, and Ryan Mitchell as the only players in the Div. I era with a hat trick. Jamel Mitchell (1st) and Sims (5th) both rank among the program's all-time leading scorers.
Last year's leading scorer, Kikanovic came into Thursday night's game still looking for his first goal of the season. That moment came midway through the first half when he dribbled past a defender and managed to sneak one past the keeper with a sliding kick.
Just four minutes later, the sophomore forward found himself again with a good look, this time dribbling up the left side of the penalty box before striking one in from near the top of the 18 for his second goal of the night.
Both scoring plays started with excellently placed forward passes from midfielder Arath Chavez, who recorded his first and second assists of the year in Thursday night's win. It was the first two-assist game of his career.
In the second half, Oscar Govea helped the Hornets with his third goal of the year, this one coming on a penalty kick after a Dons player was called for a hand ball inside the box. Govea leads the team with nine points this season (three goals, three assists).
With the Hornets ahead 3-2 after a 62nd-minute score by the Dons, Kikanovic put the game out of reach with his third goal of the night.
Alejandro Alcantara played a through ball down the field as Kikanovic and the Dons keeper both closed in on it. Kikanovic won the challenge and then dribbled his way around the keeper, facing down a lone defender doing his best to cover the goal. Kikanovic struck the ball through untouched for his third goal of the night.
The hat trick is the first of Kikanovic's Sacramento State career. Last season, he tied for the team lead with five goals, including a brace on the road at CSU Bakersfield.
Sacramento State outshot the Dons, 15-9, including 9-3 in the second half. The Hornets also led in corners, 9-7, including an 8-1 margin in the second half.
Now 5-2 on the season, Sacramento State is off to its best start since also starting 5-2 in 2010. That season, the Hornets went on to finish 11-5-7 while advancing to their second NCAA Tournament in as many seasons.
The Hornets will look to turn back-to-back wins into a streak on Sunday when they host the Pacific Tigers at Hornet Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 22.
Details on that game, including notes, links to live stats and video streams, and more, can be found online on the Sacramento State men's soccer schedule at HornetSports.com.