San Jose, Calif. - Competing a player short for over 80 minutes of the game, San Jose State University put together a sound all-around team performance, led by a pair of late goals by Jessica Scott and a career-high 11 saves by goalkeeper Nina Butera that included a penalty-kick stop, in defeating UC Irvine, 2-1, in a non-conference women’s soccer match at Spartan Stadium on Sunday, October 7.
With its first home victory of 2007 in six tries, San Jose State improves to 2-8-2 on the year heading into Western Athletic Conference play next week. UC Irvine, the second of three Big West Conference teams the Spartans will take on in 2007, drops to 6-4-1.
The game ended with an offensive flurry, with Scott winding up with her second two-goal performance of her junior season. She first took a headed through ball down the middle of the field by senior midfielder Nicole Irwin and expertly chipped it over the oncoming de Seriere at the 84:49 mark for her team-leading third score of the year. It was Irwin’s first assist of 2007 and 10th of her career.
At 87:27, senior midfielder Tasha Van Dixhorn played a ball down the left wing that Scott touched past de Seriere and slid into the empty goal for a 2-0 cushion. It marked Van Dixhorn’s first assist of the year.
Scott’s second turned out to be the necessary game-winner as Anteater sophomore Kate Berrini tallied her team-leading fifth of the season just 46 seconds later, unassisted on a long-distance effort from outside the penalty box on the right side, into the left corner of the goal behind Butera.
The drama was not yet finished, as the visitors pressed for an equalizer over the remaining 1:47. Successive shots by Frankee Kelly and Kim Horn were blocked right in front of the Spartan goal by Brittany Boehm and Beshore, respectively, with one last chance cleared away inside the area with just five seconds left.
“Down a player, we were as organized as we have been all year, which is a tribute to the players’ tactics,” remarked Spartan head coach Dave Siracusa. “Nina (Butera) stopped the penalty kick and made a number of other great saves. We had several balls saved off the line, by Kristin Krale and Brittny Beshore. It was just a gutty performance by a bunch of girls that really wanted to win.
“It was a great, contested, headed through ball by Nicole (Irwin, on the first goal), and it went right to Jessica (Scott). The second goal, we didn’t think we would need, with five minutes left. We had it, but we put the second one away, and we ended up needing it.”
San Jose State displayed some solid soccer throughout despite losing a player to a red-card game expulsion just 7:16 into the game. Previous to that, the match had opened much like it ended, with a barrage of chances on both sides of the field. Taylor back-to-back shots for the Anteaters within the first 30 seconds of the game.
Over the next three minutes, the Spartans had three good chances to get on the board. Brittny Beshore first was unable to get a good foot on a shot to culminate a nice free-kick combination, with freshman UCI goalkeeper Danielle de Seriere making the easy grab. Scott then pushed a deep through ball past de Seriere toward the left side of the penalty box, but lost her angle by the time she reached the loose ball, knocking her shot wide with a UCI defender covering the empty net. Seconds later, Scott’s header hit the side netting.
UC Irvine earned a penalty kick from a contact foul in the penalty area at the 24:56 mark of the first half, but Butera dove to her left to save Kathleen Lemieux’s attempt and keep the game scoreless.
“(Goalkeeper coach) Adrienne Herbst told me which way to go (on the kick), so I give her the credit,” said Butera. “I just listened to her.”
The Spartans dodged a couple of chances late in the half as well, with Butera making a point-blank save on a Milana Shabestari shot following a cross from the right, and senior tri-captain Kristin Krale clearing the follow-up attempt off the line from Kelly.
Butera’s 11 saves eclipsed her previous single-game best of nine stops, while Scott finished with a team-high seven shots. Freshmen Kim Johnston (Los Gatos, Calif./Leigh HS) and Lauren Ng-Pinkerton (San Jose, Calif./Santa Teresa HS) made their Spartan Stadium debuts as reserves after making their first collegiate appearances against Saint Mary’s at Spartan Field on Friday. Van Dixhorn started for the first time this season.
Horn wound up with a game-high eight shots for UC Irvine. The Eaters, who out-shot the Spartans on the night, 25-12, got three saves out of de Seriere.
San Jose State opens the WAC portion of its 2007 schedule next weekend, first traveling to rival Fresno State on Friday, October 12, for a 7:00 p.m. start.
UC Irvine (6-4-1) - 0 1 - 1
San Jose State (2-8-2) - 0 2 - 2
SJSU - Jessica Scott (3) (Nicole Irwin), 84:49
SJSU - Jessica Scott (4) (Tasha Van Dixhorn), 87:27
UCI - Kate Berrini (5) (unassisted), 88:13
UCI - 25
SJSU - 12
UCI - 3 (Danielle de Seriere-3)
SJSU - 12 (Nina Butera-11; Team-1)
UCI - 5
SJSU - 6
UCI - 9
SJSU - 11