San Jose, Calif. - The San Jose State University women’s soccer program played its first game of the Jeff Leightman era on Saturday, April 5, leading for much of the contest against the California Storm of the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL), before ultimately dropping their 2007 spring season opener by the final score of 5-1.
San Jose State’s first competition of the spring, under new head coach Jeff Leightman, was played at Spartan Field with three 30-minute periods.
Midway through the first period, junior transfer Emmy Belding got the Spartans on the board, taking a through ball and surviving a collision with the Storm goalkeeper to put the ball in the back of the net.
The score remained 1-0 in favor of San Jose State through the first 60 minutes. With about 20 minutes left in the third and final period, the Storm rallied for five goals, four of them coming from former U.S. national team, WUSA and Santa Clara University standout Brandi Chastain, who moved up late in the game from her defensive position. The Storm, based in Sacramento, Calif., also continue to feature former Brazil national team star Sissi on their roster.
Nina Butera, who was a redshirt freshman during the 2007 season, played the first half of Saturday’s contest in the Spartan goal, with sophomore walk-on Sarah Wisotsky taking over for the second half.
In addition to Butera in goal, the starting Spartan lineup featured a backline from left to right of Brittny Beshore, Jennifer Guadagnolo, Brittany Boehm and Kim Johnson, a midfield from left to right of Katie Bonadies, Liz Behlen, Hallsie Pacheco and Lauren Ng-Pinkerton, and the forward tandem of Belding and Danielle Drago. Guadagnolo was in a new spot for the senior-to-be, who has played in both midfield and up top for the Spartans during her career thus far.
Leightman and third-year assistant coach Craig Winans had welcomed a total of 22 Spartans for the start of the spring portion of their training schedule back on Saturday, March 1, with 15 of them seeing significant action during Saturday’s game.
“I was generally pleased with the first 60 minutes,” said Leightman. “We played the game at the pace that we are going to need to achieve in the fall in order to be successful. We did that for the first 30 minutes, and part of the second 30. I had a feeling that we would run out of gas at some point during the final period. We hit a wall, and the wall hit back. I told the team that if we were ahead during the game, but gave up a couple of goals at the end to lose it, that I would view the game as a success, but we certainly didn’t want it to be five goals.
“We continue to get better and move forward in our efforts to build a mentality and culture of winning. It is a building process, and we took an important step on Saturday. We still have some ground to cover.”
San Jose State will next take on Cal State Stanislaus of the NCAA Division II and California Collegiate Athletic Association, this Saturday, April 12, at home on Spartan Field at 1:00 p.m. Spartan Field is located on South Campus, right across 10th Street from Spartan Stadium. The game is open to the general public and admission is free of charge.
The Spartans later will take part in a pair of seven-versus-seven tournaments on the road at UC Davis and the University of California, on Sunday, April 20, and Sunday, April 27, respectively. San Jose State’s spring training schedule is slated to be done by Saturday, May 3.