Bittersweet 2014 season for women’s soccer

Eric S. Torres

With a potential playoff berth still in sight for the Hornets heading into their final match of the regular season, the women had to come away with a win to stay in the mix for a postseason appearance. However, the women were handed a 0-2 shutout loss on the road against Portland State Oct. 31.

Despite ending the season earlier than the women hoped (9-10-0 overall, 4-6-0 Big Sky), Sacramento State women’s soccer finished contending for an opportunity to compete for the Big Sky Conference title.

The team believed they fought hard and were involved in a lot of close games all season long. Throughout the year, there were a lot of positives from both the defense and the offense.

Coach Randy Dedini said he was proud of what the team had accomplished this season and the heart his players put into the 2014 season.

“Even the games that we had lost, we felt like we had played well in those games,” Dedini said. “It created chances to score all season long.”

Senior forward Kristen Bridges led the way in scoring for the Hornets with six goals on the season, which is her career high. Bridges said she appreciated her teammates as they fought hard all season long in her final year with the team.

“The journey has been incredible and I’m so blessed to be a part of this team,” Bridges said. “We didn’t have the best start to conference but the fight through the end has been incredible. It’s a fun journey to be a part of and I’m super proud of this team.”

Defensively, the Hornets had a total of six shutouts during season, which was led by senior goalkeeper Kimberly Mata. In addition to the shutouts, the women won three games by allowing two goals or fewer. Sophomore defender Regan Smithers credits the team’s positive attitude as one of the main reasons for their successes this season.

“I think we started out a little rough, but with the wins came our confidence,” Smithers said. “Our freshmen coming in, as well as the other transfers, our confidence was raising up and our senior’s and upper classmen stepped up this season.”

Sac State had an abundance of new faces on the team, which included nine freshmen on the 28-player roster.

For the Hornets, there were some comeback victories this season, as they became a dominant second half team throughout the year. Bridges noted the team did not seem to panic when they were down. To the senior, it was a matter of finishing off games that would have made all the difference.

“I think that it tells a lot about a team if you’re able to come from behind and come out on top in the end,” Bridges said.

Freshman midfielder Chelsea Arnold said the team has had a lot of great communication. The athletes would motivate one another to make themselves better soccer players.

“The season coming to an end now, I think the chemistry has improved a ton especially on the field,” Arnold said. “As a freshman, playing games with the women it’s even better to be able to play with people when you know what they’re going to do with the ball.”

Despite losing their leading goal scorer from last season junior forward Alyssa Anderson due to an injury the offense found different ways to score goals from multiple players.

This season there were 14 players who created at least one goal, which dictates how the team spread their offense around from player-to-player.

Despite some injuries from key players this season, Bridges was still confident the offense would be great. “We’ve been super strong since the beginning of the season and it just continues to get stronger,” Bridges said. “We work on getting the ball from the backline to the midfield to the forward’s feet and then we work off of that.”

Arnold stated the defense has been a strength of this team led by Mata whose been playing excellent soccer.

“I definitely think the defense has stepped up this year, when you look at how many goals we’re led in it’s really few and our offense has stepped it up the past five games,” Arnold said. “I think the defense is one of the main parts of holding us together throughout this whole year.”

For the six seniors on the roster, this was a bittersweet year as they were within a few points of clinching a spot in the Big Sky Conference Tournament.