RIVERSIDE — The plan had always been to win on Sunday.
In its first opportunity to reach the NCAA men’s soccer tournament, California Baptist University achieved what it set out to do four years ago and won the finals of the Western Athletic Conference postseason tournament in front of the largest crowd in the program’s history.
“That’s what everything has been about to this day – about that game and just about that game. Our whole focus and mentality was to win that game in our first year of eligibility, and we did it,” said Premack, who made six saves in the Lancers’ win over San Jose State 0 — including one early in the game Penalty shootout -0 (3:1) on Sunday in front of 1,415 spectators at the CBU Soccer Stadium.
“We gave up waiting four years for this moment to be there on our first try, which was our plan, and it’s a special achievement,” said CBU coach Coe Michaelson. “I think those fans helped push us and then dragged us to the end when we needed it and we were at the end.”
The CBU will find out their next opponent during Monday’s NCAA Selection Show at 10 a.m.
“I don’t care where we play. We’re here and I don’t think there’s a team we can’t get a result against. We have a lot of faith and will go where they send us,” Michaelson said.
All three CBU kickers — Bryan Iliohan, Anthony Vargas and Luis Mueller — netted on penalties while San Jose State’s last two kickers sailed their attempts over the bar.
The CBU controlled long distances in the first half, produced more shots and had the only real shot on goal in the first 45 minutes, but San Jose State responded with energy in the second half, putting the Lancers on their heels and forcing unusual errors.
“I thought they were the better team in the first half and we were probably the better team in the second half,” said San Jose State coach Simon Tobin.
However, the Spartans were unable to capitalize on a series of CBU errors and the teams ended 90 minutes plus the two 10-minute overtimes in a goalless tie.
“I would have liked a goal to end the game, but we’re still a bit naïve and immature in front of such a big crowd,” Tobin said.
In the shootout, Premack had memorized the scouting report on Finlay Wood, San Jose State’s first kicker, and knew where and when to jump, and made a leading leap to the right to parry the shot.
“Our coaches did so much research on their penalties,” said Premack. “(Wood) hit one in the same spot two days ago and four in the same spot all year, so my coach said, ‘Be there and trust yourself. You’re going to make the save’ and of course I trusted the preparation .”
Kasper Poulsgaard put San Jose State on the scoreboard with a steady shot into the bottom left corner, but Anthony Guzman and Herminio Padilla both failed to get the ball on the frame while CBU didn’t miss.
“I really think[Premack’s]presence, his size and the way he fills the goal had something to do with those missed shots,” Michaelson said.
Premack was named the WAC Postseason Most Valuable Player alongside central defenders Thomas Beecham and Antonio Gomez and forward Leo Mendez.