After dropping to Portland University 4-1 last weekend, the Gonzaga University men’s soccer team were eager for the sweet, chocolaty treat of victory in this Halloween weekend matchup against Santa Clara University.  Unfortunately, despite a strong opening from GU, it could not hold off the speed of SCU, ranked No. 24 in the country, and the game ended in a 4-1 loss.

The first half started well for the Zags.  Despite a heavy up-front press by the Broncos early on, the Bulldogs were able to find a way through Santa Clara’s defense and have multiple scoring chances.

At the sixth minute mark, GU got its first taste of success.  After a steal in the Broncos zone, sophomore Devin Slingby gave a quick pass to Junior Demitrius Kigeya.  Kigeya was able to swiftly turn around a defender and kick a low shot to the bottom corner of the net, just out of reach of the diving goalie’s finger tips.

The goal was Kigeya’s fifth goal of the season and makes him one of the top scorers on the team this season.

“It felt good at the moment to set the game up with momentum,” Kigeya said. “At the beginning of the season we tend to start really slow, but in the end, it really did not matter that much.”

With this boost in morale for the Zags, GU was able to find even more breaks in SCU’s defenses.  However, between the twenty-minute mark and the thirty-minute mark, GU could not hold off the rapidly-building momentum of the Broncos.

Sustaining a strong attack, SCU put the GU defense to work, forcing them to kick out a series of crosses from all sides out of their box.  Unfortunately, GU could not get the ball over the midfield line before being stolen by the Broncos, which would launch another attack at the GU goal.

At the 25 minute marker, due to a mistake in the GU defenses, SCU’s Joshua Dabora was able to slip by all of GU’s defensemen, the only obstacle in his way to scoring being GU’s goalie and redshirt sophomore Johan Garibay.  Garibay was able to block the shot but was unable to retrieve the ball before SCU’s Oladayo Thomas was able to shoot the rebound into the back of the net.

The rest of the half ended tied 1-1 with both teams taking the same amount of shots on goals.

For head coach Aaron Lewis, the first half went well for the Zags, and he wanted the team to be more cautious defensively.

“We wanted to be actually a little bit more conservative in our build up away from the ball, to limit some of their transitions,” Lewis said.  “We recognize that they were pretty speedy up high and wanted to keep an extra number [of defenseman] back.”

Yet, the game went downhill for the Zags in the second half, which let in three goals and were unsuccessful in scoring.

In the 60 minute, SCU’s Tyrone Kirunda was able to sneak by a GU defenseman and have an open breakaway to net.  Tripping on the ball, though, Kirunda gave GU a chance to catch up and stop him from having an open shot on goal.  Unfortunately for GU, in the scramble for the ball, it was kicked out of the group of players right to open SCU player Javier Ruiz Duran, who undefended, was easily able to launch the ball into the back of the net.

As the game progressed, it became evident that the GU players were becoming tired and that the sharpness that the team had in the beginning of the first half was fading.

The Broncos scored two more goals in the final ten minutes of the game.  In the 86 minute, Ruiz Duran was able to get a lone breakaway and score.  This was followed minutes later when a cross from the low corner of the box was crossed to the high center of the box, giving SCU another clear shot on goal.

For Kigeya, it was the fact that the team had played three games in the past week that contributed to the team being not as sharp in the final minutes of the game.  He hopes to improve on this in the next coming games.

“We weren't as sharp as we were in the first five to ten minutes of the first half towards the end of the game,” Kigeya said.  “Tired legs and guys were injured played a part as well. The mentality [to win] was there, but there are other things that led the team to being not as sharp.”

Lewis wants the team to stop allowing more goals into the net, but he was proud that the Zags were able to outshoot the Broncos and keep up with them throughout most of the game.

“We're going to try to limit the goals, so we'll put some things in place to limit our turnovers and be better on defensive transition,” Lewis said. “That would be the biggest key for us heading into next week.”

The Zags will have their Senior Night next weekend on Saturday, Nov. 6 at 7pm.  The team will be playing their rivals, St. Mary’s University.

Noah April-Sokol is a staff writer.