Junior midfielder Emmanuel Perez was in the spotlight once again after he fired the Mustangs to a 2-1 overtime victory against No. 24 Loyola Marymount on Thursday, Sept. 26 in Alex G. Spanos Stadium. A pair of goals and a red card in the first half set up a dramatic finish as the Mustangs (4-3-0) collected their first win against a ranked opponent since September of 2016.
Despite scoring seven goals in the last five matches, Perez said he is not letting the scoring streak make him overconfident.
“It feels amazing, honestly, it’s unreal,” Perez said. “I don’t want it to get to my head really, so I’ve just been coming out here and trying to do my best everyday whether it’s on the field or in training.” Perez said.
Despite several chances by the Mustangs, the Lions (5-2-1) had control of the game until they were cut down to ten men in the 27th minute. Loyola midfielder Narciso Cervantes received a red card after hitting Cal Poly’s top goalscorer, Perez, in the face with his elbow.
“It was a deserved red card,” head coach Steve Sampson said. “Manny is now a marked man. [The elbow] was absolutely intentional to get him out of the game.”
Just 14 minutes after the red card, Mustang senior midfielder Diego Alonso received the ball from a free kick, drove into the box and took a shot on goal. The ball deflected off Lions defender Gerardo Lopez into the back of the net for Cal Poly’s first goal of the match. Alonso’s goal was the first Loyola Marymount had conceded since Aug. 30.
However, the Mustang’s lead was short-lived as the Lions equalized within a minute of Alonso’s goal. A wayward back-pass caused confusion between Mustang goalkeeper Jason Hernandez and his back line, resulting in Loyola substitute CJ Neville blocking Hernandez’ clearance directly back into the Mustang goal.
In the second half, the Mustangs capitalized on their numerical advantage and desperately tried to find a game-winner. Cal Poly was close to going up in the 55th minute when a corner kick by Mustang junior defender Freeman Dwamena resulted in a blocked header.
Despite Cal Poly recording nine shots in the second half, the game remained tied and went into overtime at 1-1.
Just a minute and a half into overtime, junior forward Angel De Leon hit a powerful low shot toward the bottom left corner of the opposing net. The shot was saved and directed straight into the path of Perez, who scored the golden goal for a Cal Poly victory.
“[Perez] is an exceptional player who has a great nose for the goal, his work ethic is absolutely off the charts and incredible… He’s working harder than anybody else on the field and its showing by the way that he’s scoring the goals.” Sampson said.
Perez will look to continue his scoring streak in the Mustang’s next game at San Francisco State on Monday at 5 p.m.