Fresh off their two game San Diego road trip to begin the 2011 campaign, the Oaks returned to the friendly confines of Wunderlich Field for their home opener against the Royals of Hope International. Early on it was clear that the match was destined be a defensive battle with the Royals ultimately doing a better job of executing to pick up their first victory of the season by a final of 1-0.
"We played really today, and I would even go as far as saying that we controlled the game," claimed Menlo Head Coach Mike Keller on his team's performance. "I give a lot of credit to them, we had a few opportunities and just couldn't capitalize on our chances."
One of those opportunities came in the 56th minute with the Oaks trailing 1-0. After a deflection on a shot taken by Menlo senior Matheus Barbosa came right in front of the net, fellow senior Sam Zipperstein blasted the ball past Hope International goalie Tyler Golden to seemingly tie things up at one. Unfortunately for the Oaks and their fans, the play was ruled off sides costing Menlo the evening score and eventually the game.
Doing the damage offensively for the Royals was junior forward Zach Hoffer who netted the only goal of the game in the 29th minute on a deflection by Oaks goalie Alex Palomorez. Hoffer also led all players in shots with five and was tied with fellow junior Matthew Howard in shots on goal with three. The aforementioned Royals goalie Tyler Golden stopped all six shots that came his way to help guide Hope International to their first "W."
Last week's Cal Pac Player of the Week, Menlo sophomore striker Dylan Crist, had two total shots while the above mentioned Zipperstien was tied with junior Eric Angell with three to lead the Oaks.
The loss pushes Menlo's overall record to 1-2, but according to the second year head man Keller there were things to take away from the hard fought contest. "This game confirmed that we are a good team and have the chance to do some positive things this season. It's very unfortunate that we lost today but we will be able to make some adjustments going forward."
The Oaks will have over a week to digest today's defeat with the team set to return to the pitch next Thursday, September 8th with a match on the road against Academy of Art University scheduled to begin at 3:00pm.