San Jose, Calif. --- The San José State women's soccer team defeated Air Force, 3-1, and with the result clinched the 2017 Mountain West Regular Season title for the first time in program history.
"This is a culmination of hard work and dedication from players, coaches, staff, administration, alumni and all of our supporters not just this year but over the last four years," said Spartans' head coach Lauren Hanson. "I'm so happy that we could accomplish this for the team this season and for our alumni who helped us get to this point and still come back to support us to this day."
It is San José State's first regular-season championship since joining the Mountain West before the 2013 season, and only the third such title in program history. The Spartans were Western Athletic Conference regular season champions in 2009 and 2010.
As the 2017 regular season champions, the Spartans earn the right to host the 2018 Mountain West Championship Tournament.
The Spartans (11-5-1, 8-1-1 MW) and Falcons (7-7-3, 4-3-3 MW) were scoreless in the first half, but the second half was action-packed with a combined four goals and 17 shots.
Three of the four goals came within a five-minute span of game time. Darriell Franklin got San José State on the board first with her header inside the left post in the 57th minute. Yaritza Arista played the ball in and earned her team-leading sixth assist of the season.
It was Franklin's fifth goal of the season, all of which has come over the last five matches.
The lead didn't last long as Air Force's Bree Bezdek scored the equalizer in the 62nd minute. The goal came off of a free kick set up by a foul and a yellow card given to Spartan defender Myia Wilkes. Sydney Rickert sent the free kick in front of the net and found a sliding Bezdek for the goal.
Then Jamilecxth Becerra took over for the Spartans. She put SJSU back in front, 2-1, just 1:26 after Air Force scored the equalizer. Kristen Amarikwa dropped a pass off inside the box and found Becerra right in front of the net for the tip-in.
Becerra struck again in the 76th minute when she headed in Lauola Amanoni's cross from the right sideline, giving SJSU the 3-1 lead. Becerra finished the week with three goals as she also scored in SJSU's 3-2 win on Friday at Colorado College.
The last 15 minutes were intense as the Spartans held on to the lead. San José State bench players were locked arm-in-arm as the final seconds ticked off and when the final horn sounded they rushed the field to celebrate a fifth straight victory and a regular season Mountain West title.
"We scored some great goals today, but I thought our defense and the back line was just fantastic," Hanson said. "Give credit to Myia Wilkes who was back there and saved us a number of times throughout today's match."
San José State outshot Air Force 26-10 and and put 10 shots on goal compared to four for the Falcons. Paige Simoneau recorded three saves on the way to her 10th win of the season.
It is the second time the Spartans have won five in a row this year, and both streaks are part of the team's 10-1-1 record over the last 12 matches.
While the regular season title has been clinched, the season is not over. San José State hosts Fresno State in the final match of the 2017 regular season on Friday, October 27. The match will begin at 2:30 p.m. (PT) with a Senior Day ceremony to take place prior to kickoff.
Soccer Game Summary (Final)
2017 San José State Women's Soccer
Air Force vs San Jose State (Oct 22, 2017 at San Jose, Calif.)
Air Force (7-7-3, 4-3-3 MW) vs. San Jose State (11-5-1, 8-1-1 MW)
Date: Oct 22, 2017 Attendance: 325
Weather: Sunny, 71 degrees
Goals by period 1 2 Tot
Air Force........... 0 1 - 1
San Jose State...... 0 3 - 3
- 58:02 SJ Franklin, Darriell (4) (Arista, Yaritza) - 7 plays rebound into box for 12, header inside left post
- 61:23 AF BEZDEK, Bree (1) (RICKERT, Sydney) - 26 plays in free kick from left wing, sliding shot by 14 in over keep
- 62:39 SJ Becerra, Jamilecxth (6) (Amarikwa, Kristen) - 4 drops off for 23 in front, tips ball low inside right post
- 75:03 SJ Becerra, Jamilecxth (7) (Amanoni, Lauola) - 16 plays cross in from right side, header rolls past keep
Shots: Air Force 10, San Jose State 26
Saves: Air Force 7 (HIDDINK, Jennifer 7), San Jose State 3 (SIMONEAU,