With the win, the Spartans move on to play Fresno State University in the WAC championship game at 10:00 a.m. PST on Saturday, November 5, with the conference’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament at stake. Boise State University is the host of the six-team tourney, which began Thursday with a pair of first-round games.
Karin Karlsson, a senior from Alberga, Sweden, who transferred from Foothill College two years ago, made just her fifth appearance of the 2005 season but came up big, tallying her first major college goal, which proved to be the game-winner, at the 54:30 mark. Junior Andrea Puljiz’s corner kick was met head-on by sophomore Kristin Krale at the top of the penalty box. Junior Cristin Murphy’s heel flick found Karlsson inside the six-yard box, with Karlsson’s shot trickling past senior Wolf Pack goalie Megan Tarpenning and across the goalline. Only Krale was credited with an assist on the play.
“It feels awesome,” remarked Karlsson. “I haven’t been playing a lot, and it just felt so good to get an opportunity to play and contribute like that.”
In addition to her goal, Karlsson provided a huge lift off the bench following her entry late in the first half, even almost adding an assist just minutes after her score. Karlsson’s cross from the left was met on the near side by junior midfielder Nicole Martinez, only for Martinez’s hard shot to be denied by the post.
The Spartans did add the insurance goal later, however, when Liz Behlen, who earned 2005 WAC “Freshman of the Year” honors on Wednesday, sprinted down the right flank and found sophomore Kristin Krale in the center of the penalty box with a cross. Krale’s shot hit the underside of the crossbar and found the far netting for her fifth goal of the year.
“This was so exciting,” commented Krale. “We tied (Nevada) in the first game, and we just wanted to come out and show that we were the better team.”
In and around the goals which the Spartan offense produced, the SJSU defense kept the Wolf Pack scoreless for the duration. A solid collective effort was led by senior tri-captain Adrienne Herbst in goal and in charge of nine underclassmen starters in front of her, including the three-person backline of sophomore Jackie Cruz, redshirt freshman Amanda Villa and freshman Brittny Beshore. Sophomore Jackie Zabek, a central midfielder who is the tallest Spartan team member at a listed 5’ 11”, used her height to put together a standout performance, seemingly getting to every ball that Nevada tried to start an attack with.
“We tied (Nevada) the last time but we knew we were better,” said Zabek. “We wanted to win the air game. Coach (Siracusa) told me before the game to win every ball.”
Herbst finished with four saves, passing senior teammate Erin Lavey in the process for 10th-place on the all-time WAC saves chart, now with 224 for her career. The shutout was her fifth this season and seventh for her Spartan career. Tarpenning, who is third on that list, made two stops for the Wolf Pack. SJSU outshot Nevada, 16-14, on the afternoon.
San Jose State and Nevada had battled to a 4-4 double-overtime tie inside Spartan Stadium in San Jose just five days ago on Sunday, October 30, on Senior Day. Having finished the WAC regular season with identical 4-2-1 records and all tiebreakers being the same, the two sides were forced into a draw conducted by conference administrators on Monday, which SJSU won to grab the all-important second seed and first-round bye. Nevada, as the No. 3 seed, defeated sixth-seeded host Boise State, 3-0, in Thursday’s first round to set up the semifinal rematch.
“We knew it was going to be a battle,” said San Jose State head coach Dave Siracusa. “It was a little different game (than the first meeting), and obviously it meant more. We were fortunate to have the bye. The (draw) was big for us. In the end, I think that Nevada was hurting a little bit. We had to stop letting balls bounce in our penalty box. We didn’t do it three times in the first game and they scored all three times. That was the main thing we worked on.”
San Jose State is now 6-11-3 on the year, having gone 6-1-1 over its last eight games. Nevada, making its first-ever postseason appearance this year, closes the season at 11-7-2.
The win was the Spartans’ first WAC Tournament win since 2000, when SJSU won three games in four days in Fresno, Calif., to earn its only conference crown. This is their first appearance at the event since then, and sixth appearance overall.
Fresno State (9-9-2), as the fifth seed, upset top-seeded WAC regular-season champion Hawai’i in Friday’s first semifinal, 2-1. The Bulldogs had also beaten the Rainbow Wahine on the last day of the regular season, 1-0, in Honolulu. San Jose State edged Fresno State in the regular-season meeting between the teams, 1-0 in Fresno, Calif., on an 87th-minute goal by Spartan freshman Jennifer Guadagnolo.
SCORING SUMMARY 1 2 TOT
Nevada (11-7-2) 0 0 - 0
San Jose State (6-11-3) 0 2 - 2
SJSU - Karlsson (Krale), 54:30
SJSU Krale (Behlen), 82:03
NEV - 14
SJSU - 16
NEV - 2 (Tarpenning-2)
SJSU - 4 (Herbst-4)
SJSU - 4
NEV - 4
SJSU - 14