A dramatic turn of events late in Sunday's match propelled the Cal State Stanislaus men's soccer team to a 2-1 double overtime victory over a visiting Cal State Dominguez Hills - and the Warriors' postseason fate is now in their own hands (as well as feet and heads, of course).
Jose Ramirez's header goal with 3:57 left to play in the second overtime period lifted the Warriors to victory in a match full of fouls and cards of both colors. Nevertheless, Cal State Stanislaus improved to 6-7-3 overall and 4-4-2 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.
The win, which came with three points in the standings, meant the Warriors move into sixth place in the CCAA race with Humboldt State and UC San Diego played to a 2-2 draw in Arcata. Humboldt State had entered the day one-point ahead of Stanislaus in the standings, where the regular season's top six teams will advance to the conference tournament.
Stanislaus is now in the driver's seat as far as get into the CCAA postseason dance. The Warriors would get into the tournament with a win Thursday night at home against Cal State East Bay. Cal State Stanislaus even has a shot at playing at Warrior Stadium for the Sunday play-in match on Nov. 2.
In the new format, seeds 3 through 6 play on the Sunday following the regular season finale to qualify for the semifinals in Turlock on Nov. 7. With a win on Thursday, coupled with losses by UC San Diego and Cal State San Bernardino, the Warriors could leap-frog into fourth place for a home match.
UC San Diego finishes at home against these same CSUDH Toros (8-7-2, 6-3-1 CCAA) and Cal State San Bernardino is at Chico State on Thursday.
On Sunday, the Warriors got on the board first in the sixth minute as senior Larry Hernandez netted his first goal with an assist by fellow senior Carlos Gavino. Hernandez, Gavino and three other seniors - Clint Long, Gabriel Benavides and Jose Luis Rodriguez - were all honored in a pre-game ceremony for the annual Senior Game.
CSUDH (8-7-2, 6-3-1 CCAA) evened the score in the 23rd minute on a goal by Rayane Bouarroudj as the teams were tied at 1-1 into the break.
The relatively evenly matched battle wasn't decided until the final couple of minutes when Ramirez scored his fifth goal of the year in the 107th minute for the golden goal.
However, a lot of physical play happened in between the goals. In summary, a total of 45 fouls were called with seven cautions and two ejections. The Toros played 62 minutes of regulation a man down when Mohammed Aided was given a red card in the 28th minute. The CSUDH goalie Dylan Roberts was also ejected in the 104th minute when he came out of the box and used his hands to swat away a Stanislaus attempt.
Playing with a two-man advantage, the Warriors sent a corner kick in before the ball found its way out to Rafael Chavez. Chavez then connected with Ramirez's head with service back into the box for the thrilling game-winner.
Cal State Stanislaus again out-shot its opponents, 17-9, marking it the 10th time in 16 matches this season the Warriors had accomplish that feat.
Thursday night's regular season finale versus Cal State East Bay is at 4:30 p.m. at Warrior Stadium.