By Luke Reid - Sports Information Director (email@example.com)
LA JOLLA – Justin Saul had witnessed Justin Walmsley rising up to strike a game-winning header two times before. So when he lined up for a free kick from 30 yards out in overtime at UC San Diego Sunday, he knew just what he needed to do. Then he did it, delivering a perfect ball to the back post that Walmsley headed back across the face of the goalkeeper before it nestled into the back of the net for a 1-0 victory against the 6th-ranked Tritons.
In that moment, the Chico State men's soccer team:
1. Took over first place in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) South Division standings.
2. Won its fifth straight match.
3. Snapped UC San Diego's seven-match winning streak, all via shutout.
4. Stopped the clock on the Tritons consecutive scoreless minutes streak at 766:07.
The Wildcats also earned their fourth shutout in a row, confirming that UC San Diego and it's top-ranked defense in NCAA Division II, has some company in the conversation regarding the CCAA's top defensive squad.
Chico State, which did not allow a shot on goal Friday at Cal Poly Pomona, kept the Tritons off target for the first 88-plus minutes Sunday before Sam Evans recorded a pair of saves in the final 1:07 to preserve the tie.
Evans earned his 20th career shutout Sunday, matching him with Tom Carter for the second most in Chico State history and drawing him within two of all-time leader Tom Liner.
The Wildcats, ranked No. 4 in the West and just outside of the top-25 nationally entering the weekend, improved to 10-2-0 overall and 8-2-0 in the CCAA. UC San Diego, No. 1 in the West and No. 6 in the nation, fell to 9-2-1 overall, 7-2-1 in the CCAA, and from first to third in the CCAA South Division standings.
With six regular-season matches to play, Chico State leads the South with 24 points. Cal State L.A. has 23, UC San Diego 22, and Cal State Dominguez Hills 20.
The Wildcats will host Sonoma State and Humboldt State next weekend, Cal State L.A. and Cal State Dominguez Hills after that, and then wrap up the regular season on the road at Cal State San Bernardino and Cal State Monterey Bay.
Chico State out-shot UC San Diego 15-10 and earned a 4-0 edge in corner kicks.