San Jose, Calif. - Fresno State scored two second-half goals to get past the San Jose State University women’s soccer team, 2-0, in a battle for first place in the Western Athletic Conference on Senior Day at Spartan Field on Friday, October 27.
San Jose State’s first conference loss of the season drops its record to 7-9-2 overall and 4-1-1 in the WAC. Fresno State, the 2005 WAC Tournament champion, improves to 11-5-2 and a still-undefeated 5-0-1 in league play. The Bulldogs have yet to allow a goal in six WAC contests.
The two teams had entered play Friday tied for first in the WAC standings at 13 points apiece. The Bulldogs now take sole possession of the top spot with 16 points, with the Spartans in second, pending the remainder of Friday’s league slate. Both squads had already clinched berths into next week’s WAC Tournament in Reno, Nev. The top two teams in the final regular-season standings receive first-round byes into the tourney semifinals.
San Jose State senior tri-captains Nicole Martinez, Cristin Murphy and Cynthia Pinkney were recognized prior to the start of the game.
Three of the four shots the Spartans took in an even first half, were on goal, by Nicole Irwin, Heidi Romswinckel-Guise and Jessica Scott. Of the eight Fresno State shots, just two were on target. Spartan defender Kristin Krale stepped in front of a Nicole Gutierrez effort out in front of the goal in the 13th minute to help prevent a score.
In the second half, San Jose State had the first real crack at the game’s opening goal. In the 55th minute, Romswinckel-Guise made a nifty pass to a streaking Murphy down the right flank. Murphy’s cross was met at the far post by Nicole Irwin, last week’s WAC “Offensive Player of the Week.” Irwin’s shot to the near side was saved, however, by Fresno State’s senior goalkeeper Angie Larsen.
Just over two and a half minutes later, the visitors broke the deadlock. Fresno State was awarded a free kick on the right side, and Antonea Lugo’s kick was headed in at the far post by Alison Sill for her second goal of 2006.
San Jose State goalkeeper Marissa Dayton then came up with back-to-back nice saves on dangerous shots by Cortney Sobrero, the preseason WAC “Offensive Player of the Year,” and Lugo, to keep the Spartans in the game.
Fresno State did finally manage an insurance goal at the 78:13 mark, with Chelsea Davis providing a through ball for Sobrero to flick on to Gutierrez on the left side. Gutierrez dribbled in closer and lofted a shot over Dayton and into the back of the net for her fourth of 2006.
“This was kind of a slow game,” said Murphy. “It was hard for us with it being in the middle of the day, in terms of keeping the intensity level up. It was just difficult for us today. We couldn’t really generate an attack. It’s my last home game, but we have a few more (games) left in the season. I think that we will be able to see Fresno State again (at the WAC Tournament).”
Dayton finished with seven saves for the Spartans. Irwin had a team-high three shots in the game, with two on goal.
For Fresno State, Larsen stopped five shots in earning her 12th individual shutout of the season, which leads the WAC. Sobrero had game highs of eight shots and three shots on goal. Lugo added five attempts.
“We knew that Fresno State would be strong in the back,” added head coach Dave Siracusa, who has led the Spartans to increased win totals in each of his first three seasons in charge. “They kind of lulled us to a point that we stopped making passes. We mustered up a bit of an attack late, but we were better in the first half. But now we know. Last year, we beat (Fresno State) up at their place on Senior Day, 1-0 on a late goal. Now they came here and did the same. (They beat us at the WAC Tournament.) We will try to turn the tables on them in Reno (at this year’s WAC Tournament).”
“If the measure of success for a departing senior is whether the program is better now than when they got here, then definitely yes, these three were successful,” concluded Siracusa about his senior class. “They provided great leadership this season. I feel bad that they couldn’t get their win today, but we have bigger fish to fry, and they know that.”
The Spartans close out the 2006 regular season in Reno, Nev., against the Wolf Pack of the University of Nevada, this Sunday, October 29. Kick-off at Mackay Stadium, site of the 2006 WAC Tournament, is set for 1:00 p.m.
Fresno State (11-5-2, 5-0-1 WAC) - 0 2 - 2
San Jose State (7-9-2, 4-1-1 WAC) - 0 0 - 0
FS - Alison Sill (2) (Antonea Lugo), 57:03
FS - Nicole Gutierrez (4) (Cortney Sobrero, Chelsea Davis), 78:13
FS - 25
SJSU - 9
FS - 5 (Angie Larsen-5)
SJSU - 7 (Marissa Dayton-7)
FS - 5
SJSU - 1
FS - 15
SJSU - 4