Irwin hat trick sends women's soccer to 4-2 win at Hawai'i

Honolulu, Hawaii - A three-goal second-half hat trick by Nicole Irwin propelled the San Jose State University women’s soccer team to a 4-2 triumph over defending Western Athletic Conference regular-season champion University of Hawai’i at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium on Sunday, October 22.

The hat trick was the second for a Spartan player in as many games. Jessica Scott scored three first-half goals in a 5-0 home victory over Louisiana Tech exactly one week ago on Sunday, October 15. The feat was previously achieved last by all-time leading scorer Stacie Savage on October 24, 1997, against Hawai’i. Irwin’s is now the seventh hat trick in program history.

RECORD SHUTOUT STREAK EXTENDS THROUGH FIRST HALF

San Jose State had gone a school-record four straight games without allowing a goal to begin the conference season. The first UH goal of the night, coming at the 65:53 mark, stopped the streak at 446 minutes of play.

With the win, the Spartans improve to 7-8-2 overall and a still undefeated 4-0-1 in the WAC. Hawai’i drops to 8-8-2 overall and 2-3 in conference play with its second straight home loss. It was San Jose State’s first win over Hawai’i since a 3-1 defeat in 1998, also in Honolulu.

San Jose State also regains a share of first place in the conference, moving into a tie with rival Fresno State atop the WAC standings at 13 points from five games each. The Bulldogs are the Spartans’ next opponent. Fresno State lost its perfect WAC run with a 0-0 tie at Utah State earlier on Sunday, October 22

MURPHY STARTS THINGS OFF

The Spartans had the better of the play throughout the opening 45 minutes at Hawai’i, getting on the board in the 14th minute. Hallsie Pacheco’s deep, diagonal cross from the left side was met at the far post by an open Cristin Murphy, with Murphy shooting low past UH goalkeeper Kori Lu into the corner for 1-0. It was Murphy’s second goal and Pacheco’s second assist of 2006. The goal was also SJSU’s first against Hawai’i since a 2-1 loss in Honolulu in 2001, a span of four games.

The Spartans missed a golden opportunity to extend their advantage in the 21st minute. Murphy, again unmarked on the right flank, crossed for Nicole Martinez, whose close-range shot was saved by Lu. SJSU exploited the left side of the Hawai’i defense for much of the period.

“Cristin was dominating them, especially during the first part of the game,” said San Jose State head coach Dave Siracusa. “This field is particularly wide, so diagonal balls to the outside midfielders become dangerous.”

Defensively, SJSU goalkeeper Marissa Dayton made four saves in the first, and also came out expertly late in the half to catch a dangerous Hawai’i cross from the right side, with a pair of opposing players lurking at the far post. The Spartans carried the 1-0 lead into the break.

EARLY STRIKE BY IRWIN IN FRANTIC SECOND HALF

The furious, five-goal second half featured the left-footed heroics of Irwin. San Jose State increased its lead to 2-0 just over three minutes after the restart, as Irwin fired a shot from near the top of the penalty box and into the right corner of the net past the diving Lu.

The junior midfielder, a 2005 first-team All-WAC and 2006 preseason All-WAC selection, scored again at the 65:26 mark with a powerful shot from the left side of the penalty box into the right netting. Jessica Scott set up the score with a through ball for her fourth assist on the year, helping to give the Spartans a 3-0 cushion.

Hawai’i got the goal right back just 27 seconds later via Ambree Ako, putting an end to SJSU’s shutout streak. Ako shot nicely with her left foot from the top of the penalty area into the upper left corner of the goal, with Jessica Domingo gaining credit for the assist.

The Rainbow Wahine then quickly narrowed the margin to one goal less than two minutes later at 67:38, when Kelli-Anne Chang latched onto Koren Takeyama’s cross from the left for her eighth goal of 2006.

Irwin squashed all comeback hopes for the home team, however, stepping up one more time in the 77th minute. She pounced on a defensive giveaway and launched a 35-yard shot that went over Lu and into the left corner for her team-leading eighth goal of the year and a 4-2 score-line.

"DOMINANT PERFORMANCE"

“All of them were long shots and all were left-footed,” said Siracusa of Irwin’s goals. “They were great strikes, into the side netting. It was just a dominant performance by her. If Nicole gets a second to shoot, she will find the net.”

Hawai’i did produce one final important threat at the 77:38 mark, when Taryn Fukuroku found herself with the ball and with an empty net in front of her, only to be denied by the Spartans’ Kristin Krale, in her fifth start at center back after playing the first 12 games in midfield.

“Kristin was huge,” added Siracusa. “She was everywhere and was impressive again today.”

Dayton finished with five saves for San Jose State. Irwin and Murphy shared the team high with three shots each, with all three of Irwin’s attempts going for goals.

Fukuroku, who entered the day as the WAC’s co-leader in goals with eight, registered a game-high four shots. Lu made two stops in net.

Said Siracusa, “We had about 75 percent of the play in the first half, but the game was still pretty unsettled. We came out in the second half, got a goal in the first four minutes, and took control. After our third goal, they quickly got one back, and scored again a short time later. Hawai’i is a dangerous team. They are fast and direct. They play north to south. Then it was Nicole (Irwin) again. The last part of the game, it was end to end.

“We got a big game from Nicole (Irwin), but everybody played well. The first Hawai’i goal was a great goal. Our shutout streak is gone, but I’ll take a 4-2 win here any time.”

RIVAL BULLDOGS UP NEXT ON SENIOR DAY

The Spartans conclude the 2006 regular season in the coming week. San Jose State hosts Fresno State on Senior Day on Friday, October 27, at 1:00 p.m. at Spartan Field, in a battle for sole possession of first place in the WAC. Both teams had already clinched berths in the six-team 2006 WAC Tournament before play began for the day.

SCORING SUMMARY
San Jose State (7-8-2, 4-0-1 WAC) - 1 3 - 4
Hawai’i (8-8-2, 2-3 WAC) - 0 2 - 2

Scoring
SJSU - Cristin Murphy (2) (Hallsie Pacheco), 13:38
SJSU - Nicole Irwin (6) (unassisted), 48:09
SJSU - Nicole Irwin (7) (Jessica Scott), 65:26
UH - Ambree Ako (5) (Jessica Domingo), 65:53
UH - Kelli-Anne Chang (8) (Koren Takeyama), 67:38
SJSU - Nicole Irwin (8) (unassisted), 76:42

Shots
SJSU - 8
UH - 16

Goalkeeper Saves
SJSU - 6 (Marissa Dayton-5; Team-1)
UH - 2 (Kori Lu-2)

Corner Kicks
SJSU - 2
UH - 4

Fouls
SJSU - 9
UH - 3