San Diego, Calif. --- San José State freshman keeper Paige Simoneau was on the bench for 118 minutes before she became the hero that denied two New Mexico PK's and helped send the Spartans to the Mountain West Tournament's championship game.
Simoneau replaced the MW's Defensive Player of the Year, Zoe Makrigiannis, in the final two minutes of double-overtime with penalty kicks looming. The Corona, Calif., native let the first two UNM kicks by, but that would be all. Simoneau stopped the third, and after the fourth Lobos shot went off the post, Simoneau sent away their fifth and final attempt.
Darriell Franklin, put in the Spartans' final penalty kick, launching the SJSU bench into a dash across the field that ended in a swarm around the two freshmen.
"It's probably one of best feelings I've ever had," said Simoneau. "I just said, I have to do this for my team. I've been in this situation before in high school, and this was just another one of those."
"Paige is an unbelievable shot stopper," said SJSU head coach Lauren Hanson. "I told the staff before the game that if we go to PKs I'm putting Paige in. That's part of her game, and we knew she was phenomenal at stopping kicks when we recruited her."
The Lobos only had one shot on goal in regulation, and that's all they needed to begin the drama. New Mexico's Lindsey Guice took a cross inside the box and scored an equalizing goal in the 90th minute.
Maricruz Chapa put the Spartans ahead in the 42nd minute with her third goal of the season. Dorthe Hoppius played a short goal kick from Ulrich off of her head and straight over four UNM defenders to a streaking Chapa. Chapa poked it over Ulrich to give SJSU the 1-0 lead.
"Mari was unreal tonight," Hanson said. "She's been hot the last few matches and she has gained a lot of confidence from that. Tonight she was just first class."
The Spartans dominated possession during regulation, but the Lobos turned the tide in the first overtime, and both teams had their chances in double-overtime. However, neither team's attacks came to fruition, and the two teams settled business with penalty kicks.
Madisyn Olguin and Brooke Webster netted the first two attempts for New Mexico. Yvette Cuellar answered right back with the Spartans' first chance, but a miss on the second attempt put the Spartans down, 2-1.
After Simoneau blocked UNM's third shot, Carley McBeath pulled the Spartans even with a make, and the Spartans triumphed with Simaneau's third stop coupled with Franklin's dagger on the final attempt.
"Our theme this whole year is that if you believe in it, you can do it," added Hanson,the Mountain West Coach of the Year. "It's all about mentality, and they showed great mentality tonight."
#2-San José State will face the regular season champion and #1-seed San Diego State Aztecs in the championship match set for Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. PST.
"I've said it before, we believe we're going to win it," Hanson said. "We'll try to keep the ball and generate a good attack. We have to create great opportunities and the key on Saturday will be to finish them."
Soccer Game Summary (Final)
2015 San José State Women's Soccer
New Mexico vs San Jose State (Nov 05, 2015 at San Diego, Calif.)
New Mexico (10-8-2) vs. San Jose State (10-7-3)
Date: Nov 05, 2015 Attendance: 517
Weather: Clear, breezy
Goals by period 1 2 OT O2 SO Tot
New Mexico 0 1 0 0 0 1
San Jose State 1 0 0 0 0 1
1 41:34 SJ Chapa, Maricruz (3) (Hoppius, Dorthe) - One on one chip shot from eight yards o
2 89:18 NM GUICE, Lindsey (5) (COONROD, Alyssa) - Short shot past the keeper, two yards ou
New Mexico: 24/Y 11/Y 3/N 13/N 14/N
San Jose State: 20/Y 3/N 19/Y 26/N 12/Y
San Jose State wins shootout 3-2
Shots: New Mexico 9, San Jose State 19
Saves: New Mexico 9 (ULRICH, Cassie 9), San Jose State 2
(Makrigiannis, Zoe 2)