Irwin's overtime blast wins it for women's soccer against Saint Mary's

San Jose, Calif. Sophomore Nicole Irwin’s 30-yard, left-footed blast into the upper corner late in the second sudden-victory overtime period earned San Jose State a come-from-behind, 3-2 win against Saint Mary’s College in non-conference women’s soccer action at Spartan Stadium on Wednesday, October 26.

The win was the Spartans’ first all-time against the Gaels after six straight losses since 1999. It was also San Jose State’s first regular-season overtime win under second-year head coach Dave Siracusa. The Spartans had played three overtime games in 2004 and four thus far in 2005, managing three ties to go with four losses.

The first half featured few scoring chances for either side. The Spartans were the closest to tally, junior tri-captain Cynthia Pinkney’s low shot inside the penalty box cleared off the line by Gael sophomore Stephanie Harrison in the 41st minute.

SECOND HALF SURGE IN SCORING

The action picked up following the halftime break. Andrea Puljiz put the home side up at 56:35, taking a short pass from fellow junior Cristin Murphy and firing a shot from the right edge of the penalty box into the upper corner of senior goalie Alicia Artuso’s net.

Saint Mary’s then notched two goals within 24 seconds to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead. After successive shots from junior McKenna Belzer and freshman Mia Tofano were saved by senior Spartan goalkeeper Erin Lavey in the 72nd minute, Tofano finally tucked home the rebound. The Gaels were awarded a penalty kick 24 seconds later, with senior Katie Frattone converting for her sixth goal of 2005.

Spartan freshman Jessica Scott grabbed the equalizer in the 83rd minute to send the game into extra periods, taking a nice through ball by Murphy, losing her defender with a deft touch, and shooting on the ground from the right side into the left corner. It was Scott’s fourth on the year and Murphy’s second assist of the night.

IRWIN PUTS THE EXCLAMATION POINT

Saint Mary’s had the better run of chances in the first 10-minute sudden-victory overtime, but it was the home side that got the winner in the second. At 106:32, just 3:28 away from a tie, Irwin found the ball in front of her and fired from long range to end it. Sophomore Jackie Cruz’s long outlet from the Spartan half was put into Irwin’s path by Kristin Krale, another sophomore, with Cruz and Krale both gaining credit for assists.

“This was extremely big for two reasons,” said Irwin. “It boosts our confidence for the next two games, and also we had never beaten Saint Mary’s before. This result shows how hard we’ve been working.”

“This was a great one,” added Siracusa. “We don’t get a lot of come-from-behind wins, so that was very important. It was also important to get an overtime win. We’ve had five overtime games this season, and this was our first win. This is the time of year when this needs to happen. We’ll know more about the impact of this win tomorrow, but right now, it feels great.”

Lavey, making her first start of the season, stopped seven shots and earned the victory. Artuso made six saves for the Gaels. SJSU outshot Saint Mary’s on the night, 21-17.

With the victory, San Jose State improves its record to 4-11-2. Saint Mary’s falls to 8-7-2 following its second double-overtime game in a row.

San Jose State closes out the 2005 regular season with a pair of Western Athletic Conference games this weekend which will determine its seeding for the WAC Tournament the following week. The Spartans will play at Fresno State on Friday, October 28, at 7:00 p.m., followed by a 1:00 p.m. contest inside Spartan Stadium with Nevada on Sunday, October 30, on Senior Day.

SCORING SUMMARY 1 2 OT OT2 TOT
Saint Mary’s (8-7-2) 0 2 0 0 - 2
San Jose State (4-11-2) 0 2 0 1 - 3

Scoring
SJSU Puljiz (Murphy), 56:35
SMC Tofano (Belzer), 71:02
SMC Frattone (Penalty kick), 71:26
SJSU Scott (Murphy), 82:37
SJSU Irwin (Krale, Cruz), 106:32

Goalkeeper Saves
SMC 7 (Artuso-6; Team-1)
SJSU 7 (Lavey-7)

Shots
SMC 17
SJSU - 21

Corner Kicks
SMC 6
SJSU 4

Fouls
SMC 11
SJSU - 19