CHICO — The Chico State and Humboldt State men’s soccer teams had one goal in mind entering Thursday’s regular-season finale. The winner received a playoff berth into the California Collegiate Athletic Association playoffs, and the losing team’s season ended Thursday.
Chico State senior midfielder Cooper Renteria took that message to heart entering Thursday and used it for motivation.
“Let me tell you all I did last night was really think about how much this game really meant, I don’t want to be done with it,” Renteria said after the match Thursday. “So yeah just using that to motivate me today, it was big.”
In the 28th minute, Chico State’s leading goal scorer Jacob Chong scored his seventh goal of the season on an assist by Adrian Fontanelli to give the Wildcats a first-half lead. The one goal was all the Wildcats needed, as Chico State (6-11, 5-6 CCAA) defeated Humboldt State (10-5-2, 4-5-2 CCAA) 1-0 on Thursday at University Soccer Stadium.
The Wildcats had lost their previous three matches, and the Jacks had lost their previous two. On Sept. 25, Humboldt State defeated Chico State 1-0 in Arcata so Thursday’s win evened the season series at one win for each team. The 10 wins for Humboldt State this season are the most in program history.
Entering the start of the season the Wildcats had no captains. They lost eight of their first 10 games. Chico State finished its season with wins in four of its final seven games, including the win over Humboldt to close out the year. Renteria stepped into a leadership role that he admitted he was not used to. He credits the turnaround to simply the experience the team has gotten throughout the season.
“I kind of had to put that leadership on my shoulders being that guy that’s been here the longest,” Renteria said. “I had to step up in that aspect especially how the beginning of the season was going.”
The Wildcats’ defense was able to hold Humboldt State scoreless despite a strong effort late in the game by the Jacks’ offense led by captain Marco Silveira. Humboldt State outshot Chico State 18-15, including five shots on goal for the Wildcats and six by the Jacks.
Silveira led the Jacks with seven shots Thursday and leads his team with seven goals on the season. He is tied with Chong for fifth in the CCAA in goals and leads the conference in game-winning goals. He also scored against the Wildcats in September.
Forward Noah Ross, who was defending Silveira for most of the match Thursday, admitted defense isn’t his natural position but said it was a great experience guarding the crafty player Silveira. He said he is willing to do whatever it takes to help his team win and was excited about the way Chico State closed the game out.
With 2:39 left in the second half, Silveira had his chance to tie up the game after a penalty on Chico State freshman defender Trevor Fritz. Chico State goalkeeper Luis Albaran dove to his left, saved the Silveira shot and the Wildcats’ defense collapsed to clear the ball away.
— Justin Couchot (@JCouchot_Sports) November 4, 2021
“Luis he’s been big all year, but I don’t think there’s any bigger moment than that one right there to keep our season alive,” Renteria said. “That was massive for us and that just moves us on to Sunday’s game.”
Ross said Albarran had two penalty kicks scored on him in Sunday’s loss to Cal Poly Pomona and it was “eating at him.” Thursday, Albarran had seven saves in the shutout.
“When we got that last one it was unfortunate, but he stuck with us and he saved us. I’m really happy for that kid,” Ross said.
Chico State enters the CCAA tournament as the No. 6 seed, and now prepares for a match at noon Saturday against No. 3 ranked Cal State San Bernardino. The Wildcats lost to the Coyotes 3-0 on Oct. 1 in Chico.