Fresno Pacific fell 3-2 to Cal State Dominguez Hills in Seattle on Thursday for a heartbreaking end to the Sunbirds’ first NCAA Division II Championship appearance in school history.
The third-seeded Toros edged the No. 6-seed Sunbirds on Pedro Velazquez’s header in the 79th minute then held on to win the match.
The Toros (15-2-3) advance to the second round to play No. 2-seed Seattle Pacific at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Velazquez also got the Toros’ started with a goal in the first minute before the Sunbirds leveled it 10 minutes later on a 19-yard blast from Eli Gallegos.
Both teams exchanged multiple shots until the Sunbirds drew a foul in the penalty area that Nogales converted for a 2-1 lead in the 34th minute.
The one-goal advantage held through halftime, but not much after as the Toros’ Israel Murguia got past goalie Andrew Luis on a low shot to equalize in the 52nd.
Shots from Nogales, Renato Bustamante and Benjamin Cowdrill were all blocked as Fresno Pacific went in the second half. Yellow cards to Martin Kams, Nogales and Dallas Whitlow added to the frustration.
The Sunbirds, who were ranked No. 10 in the nation in the most recent National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, end the season 14-3-2.
Last week, Fresno Pacific beat Dixie State 3-0 for its second PacWest title in three years. The victory was also coach Jaime Ramirez’s 300th career win in 25 years at the post. He is now 300-150-31.
PacWest awards – Bustamante, the Sunbirds’ senior captain and starting midfielder, was named the 2015 PacWest Conference Player of the Year on Wednesday. Bustamante led the league in points (31) and assists (13) and also was fourth in goals scored with nine. He is the first Sunbird to win the award.
Jorge Chedraui, Nogales and Whitlow joined Bustamante on the All-PacWest First Team, while Joey Belzil, Cowdrill, Sergi Nus and Andrew Luis were honored on the second team. Gallegos and Emmanuel Ochoa were named to the third team.