Emotional senior day results in victory

STAR // Spencer Vaishville    Left, seniors pose with their family. Right, Curtin goes for the goal.

Seawolf Soccer Field welcomed 550 fans, family members, and friends who packed the bleachers on Friday in what would be the women’s soccer team seniors’ final game on their home turf as the ladies went on to win 4-2 against the Humboldt State University Lumberjacks. 

“It was a really bittersweet moment, but I couldn’t have asked for a better way to go out,” said team captain JJ McFarlin. “It’s been an amazing year and I have the best teammates in the world. I’m so lucky.

After a rather emotional pregame ceremony where the team’s seniors were honored with a sash, bouquet of flowers and a team photograph as a thank you from coaches and the university, all of the nicety was forgotten and the intensity was turned up beyond the maximum as both teams geared up for what would be an extremely physical 90 minutes.

“It didn’t hit me until I was running down the line hugging all of my teammates, but as soon as I hugged my coach, it was just the waterworks,” said Alicia Mertz, one of the team’s six seniors. “I tried to hold it together, but it’s just one of those things because this program has been a life-changing experience for me.”

Despite outshooting the Lumberjacks 11-2 after the first 45 minutes of play and generally dominating in terms possession of the ball, it was the Lumberjacks that emerged with a 1-0 lead at the half. 

“It’s hard going down a goal, but it just goes to show how much heart our team has,” said McFarlin. “We weren’t willing to give up.”

However, the Seawolves came back with a vengeance as they combined for four goals on 18 shots in the second half while only conceding one additional goal. 

Sophomore Margi Osmundson connected with a cross from Lauren Curtin to put Sonoma on the board and tie the game just seven minutes into the second half.

It was only fitting that the team’s captain, McFarlin, rebounded a shot from Cara Curtin and blasted it passed the opposing goalkeeper to put the Seawolves ahead 2-1. 

“To score a goal on senior day just means everything,” said McFarlin. My freshman year, the first goal I ever scored was on senior day against Humboldt so I kind of feel like I’ve come full circle.”

 Of course, the scoring was far from over as Humboldt’s Maddi Null slid a ball past Allison Hadidian, who only experienced five total shots on goal from Humboldt throughout the game, to tie the game at two’s. 

From then on out, it was the Curtin show as the two sisters recorded the final two goals of the game. 

Senior Cara Curtin ran the ball up the right side of the field and hooked a ball up and over the keeper to the opposite side of the goal to put the Seawolves ahead for the final time. 

With just over nine minutes left to go in the match, Lauren Curtin notched the insurance goal on a cross from Lauren Fryer as she headed the ball in right over the goalie’s head. 

The Seawolves gave the Lumberjacks zero slack as Sonoma refused to let the ball anywhere near Hadidian, who refused to let anything past her in the closing stages of the game. 

The 4-2 victory over Humboldt State granted them a California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) postseason berth, where they are ranked No. 2 according to the NCAA Division II West Regional Rankings that were released this past Wednesday. 

“I’m in love with my team—every single player,” said Mertz. “Just the fact that they could find it [the win] for us, the seniors, means everything. You always want to end on a high note, and to win your senior game is huge.”

Though there is plenty of young talent to be excited about, it was evidently difficult for Salzman-Dunn and the rest of her squad to bid farewell to their seniors who poured their hearts into the team: Cara Curtin (forward), JJ McFarlin(team captain; defense), Danielle Carr (forward/defense), Alicia Mertz (forward), Shayla Mellenthin (team captain; defense),  and Lauren Fryer (forward). 

The Seawolves will travel to Cal State East Bay on Friday and Humboldt State on Sunday to conclude their regular season before heading to the CCAA Championship Semifinal on Nov. 8.

“There’s fight in them and they’re very united. You can never say die with them; they’re always in it to the end,” said Salzmann-Dunn. “Champions aren’t always the most talented team or the team that’s always been the most consistent; sometimes it’s the team that finds that momentum and has that spirit about them where they just refuse to lose and that’s been sort of our mantra all year.”