Sac State women’s soccer exacts revenge against Northern Arizona in gritty Big Sky Tournament win

Hornets move to semifinal round after upsetting Lumberjacks 1-0


Woody Meyers

Senior defender Aubrey Goodwill pushes the ball upfield on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, at Jackson Stadium. The Hornets defeated the Lumberjacks 1-0 and advanced to the semifinal round of the Big Sky tournament.

Jordan Latimore

When the Sacramento State women’s soccer team was defeated by Northern Arizona University two weeks ago, they thought a trip to Jackson Stadium in Greeley, Colorado for the first round of the Big Sky Tournament was a pipe dream. 

“After this past weekend, we weren’t sure we were going to make the playoffs, and I think that the girls felt that pain,” said head coach Randy Dedini. “To have a new life, the girls were playing loose today. They were just excited to be here.”

The Hornets used that new life to snatch a thrilling 1-0 victory against NAU wednesday.

The opening of the first round matchup between the Hornets (5-11-2, 3-6 Big Sky) and the Lumberjacks (8-11, 6-3 Big Sky) saw nothing but gridlock. 

Both teams saw limited offensive opportunities and both defenses came out with assertive approaches. The game did not see a single shot until the 19th minute by Northern Arizona, signaling both teams’ struggle to gain any offensive momentum.

“It was a very back and forth game,” Dedini said. “We just played them a week and a half ago, so we kind of knew what to expect and we knew it was going to be chaotic.”

The physical nature of the match also set the tone for both teams early . Altogether, there were 12 first-half fouls called, as both the Hornets and Lumberjacks looked to impose their will on the match with rough tackling.

“It was pure hustle on our end,” said senior forward Ele Avery. “Hustle to stay committed to the play and hustle to get on the end of the cross, concentration and fight all the way to the end.”

For the most part, the second half would see more of the same slow and gritty fight. 

As time was expiring, the Hornets knew a play had to be made in order to continue this postseason spot that they fought so hard to earn, and senior forward Tiffany Miras stepped up to the plate.

With under eight minutes remaining in the match, Avery drove an attack deep on the right side of NAU territory and was able to get off a cross pass toward the center of the penalty box.

Waiting at the end of the pass was Miras, who was able to head the ball into the goal to give Sac State a 1-0 lead in the 83rd-minute. 

“What gave me confidence to make that header was how we emphasize on trusting that our teammate is going to get a cross into the box,” Miras said. “I saw Ele get past her man, and I knew I had to sprint into the box and get on the end of the cross.”

The Hornets were able to hold on for the remaining 6 ½ minutes of the match to secure a win and a spot in the second round to face off against the University of Montana, a squad who also beat them earlier this season.

“It took us a while to really find ourselves, but you know, we’re clicking right now,” Dedini said. “[Montana] doesn’t give up a lot of goals, [but] they don’t score a lot of goals. So, we feel like if we can score first, we’ve got a good chance.”

Sac State’s semifinal matchup against the No. 2 seeded Grizzlies will be Friday, Nov. 5 at 11 a.m at Jackson Stadium in Greeley, Colorado.