The California Collegiate Athletic Association began its soccer postseason on Tuesday with a match between No. 5 CSU San Marcos against No. 4 San Francisco State Univerity (SFSU) and No. 6 CSU Los Angeles (CSULA ) against our own No. 3 Sonoma State University.
While SFSU ultimately prevailed in penalty kicks late in the evening, the Seawolves were able to dispatch the challengers in front of a home crowd late in the first period of overtime on a quick right-side pass from Julia Pritchard to Bella Amyx, who snuck the ball in low on an awkward shot behind her back.
They both combined for 10 shots on goal, three more than CSULA had in total on the night.
Regardless, it was a hard-fought game by both sides, resulting in two yellow cards and a red for the visiting Golden Eagle’s Irma Pinzon early in the first overtime period, sending her home some 10 minutes earlier than the rest of her squad.
Things would not get any easier for the Seawolves as they hit the road on Friday to challenge No. 2 Chico State University in La Jolla, CA, home of the UC San Diego Tritons.
The Wildcats proved a tougher match, scoring just before the halfway point off a nice assist from Jordan Doukakis to Lauren Madero and sending the Seawolves into halftime with ground to make up.
Halfway through the second period, Amyx converted a perfect setup from Sarah Lindborg at center field, curling out right and boxing-out two Wildcat defenders in the process.
With a right-footed, left-post shot passed Chico State goalie Brenna Meier, the game was now 1-1 headed into the final 20 minutes of regulation, putting palpable pressure on both teams to put this one away early and rest-up for Sunday’s finale. It would prove unnecessary, though, as SSU went to overtime for the third time in the last four games.
Despite the penultimate overtime periods and 110 minutes of play, the game went to a decisive shootout.
Each squad’s Round 1 attempts were denied but Sonoma State’s Kristyn Lerma converted her attempt in Round 2 after a missed attempt by Chico’s Lauren Madero, putting the Seawolves up 1-0. Nadiah Martinez would make it 1-1 off a Round 3 goal, although Lindborg would convert as well, putting the score at 2-1 at the end of the round.
Sonoma State goalkeeper Kristen Spear would prove to be the deciding factor here, making an excellent save off of Sarah Emigh’s attempt, allowing Madison Watts to finish-off the upset and setup a championship rematch with No. 1 UC San Diego on Sunday morning.
With the daunting task of taking on a No. 1-ranked UCSD team, whose offensive and defensive talents were on full display in a 5-0 trouncing of SF State on Friday, the Seawolves chose to take their win on its own merit.
“I don't think our season is near being over,” said Amyx. “But believing in ourselves moving forward, I think it means a lot. It's just another day that we get to go out and train and play again and I love it.
Whatever momentum SSU gained last week was quickly halted with a 3-1 loss to top-ranked UCSD on Sunday. It was a game in which the Seawolves finally looked overpowered and outmatched, succumbing to a No. 1 seed that had both the 2018 Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year.
SSU found themselves in a situation not too dissimilar to Friday’s match against Chico, going into halftime down 2-0 with 45 minutes of regulation left to play.
Before they were able to get their chance to put themselves on the scoreboard, UCSD’s Mary Reilly put the Tritons up 3-0 with an 20-foot, far-post shot early in the second half, her fifteenth on the season.
Nevertheless, three SSU players were selected to the 2018 CCAA Women’s Soccer All-Tournament Team: Bella Amyx, Kristen Spear, and Madison Watts.
Next up, the Seawolves await Monday’s NCAA rankings to determine whether or not they make their way into the Division II Championship Tournament. With an overall record of 11-4-4, SSU currently ranks sixth in the West Region, just within the top seven teams to be selected for the tournament.