Just two Big West matches remain in the 2013 season, and the fate of the Cal State Fullerton women’s soccer team has been laid at the Titans’ feet.
With a 3-2-1 league record, the Titans’ 10 points have them currently sitting third in the Big West Conference heading into road matches with Long Beach State on Thursday and UC Irvine on Sunday.
If they win both matches, the Titans will return home to take part in the 2013 Big West Tournament hosted at Titan Stadium. Dropping any points in the form of a loss or tie in either match will mean the Titans have to hope the teams below them falter as well.
While it may not be an ideal situation for a CSUF team predicted to repeat as Big West regular season champions by coaches around the league prior to the start of the 2013 season, a team cannot ask for much more than to have a chance to decide their own destiny.
Up first for the Titans in their final pair of matches is a Long Beach State team sitting just two spots back of CSUF with eight points and a 2-2-2 record in the Big West.
Despite being one point back of the fourth and final spot for entrance into the Big West Tournament, the 49ers did themselves no favors in recent matches drawing 0-0 with Hawai’i at home before losing 1-0 to lowly Cal State Northridge at Matador Soccer Field.
The 49ers loss to the Matadors was CSUN’s only victory in Big West play so far this season. Like the Titans, the 49ers have relied heavily on a stingy defense and strong goalkeeping to carry them this season. Giving up only 17 goals in 16 matches, Long Beach State boasts the Big West’s third-best defense behind UC Santa Barbara and CSUF.
In front of goal, the 49ers leader is freshman midfielder Mimi Rangel. With five goals and four assists in 2013, the freshman has played a part in over half of Long Beach State’s goals this season. Add to the mix forward Elizabeth Lyons with her Big West leading seven assists; they’ve proven they can be a handful for teams despite the 49ers’ less than stellar record.
Following their match at Long Beach, the Titans will close out their 2013 Big West campaign with a short trip to face second-place UCI, whose qualification for the Big West Tournament is no longer in doubt after defeating CSUN 2-1 last Sunday.
Holding a 5-2-0 league record and 15 points, the Anteaters can finish no worse than fourth place no matter the results in their final two matches of the season.
Junior forward Laura McGrail has led the way for the Anteaters in 2013 with her team-high seven goals and 17 points, including goals in each of her last two matches. UCI has also enjoyed excellent play from goalkeepers Jenn Randazzo and Corey Tobin, with Tobin having wrestled the starting spot away from her teammate despite Randazzo’s Big West best nine goals against.
On the Titans side of things, a recent two-match winning streak to snap a previous streak of two losses in a row is great for CSUF.
It has proved monumental for the Titans who now have the chance to decide their own destiny which is something Head Coach Demian Brown’s team relishes, especially with the Big West Tournament taking place at CSUF.
However, the team may have to face their final two opponents without their two arguably most consistent players.
Although she is available for selection, senior goalkeeper Lindsey Maricic was carted off the field in the final minutes of the win last Sunday over UC Davis when she collided with her goal post, sustaining a cut over her right eye that required treatment.
Freshman defender Jazzmin Mancilla, who has started in 15 of the Titans’ 17 games in 2013, will have to sit out the Long Beach State match after picking up two yellows in the same contest Maricic was injured in.
If Maricic cannot go, the Titans will have to rely on freshman Jennifer Stuart in goal to marshal the Big West’s leading defense and hope a shuffling of the back line isn’t damaging come Thursday. The Titans shouldn’t be too worried with Stuart in goal as the freshman has only given up one goal in her 185 minutes in goal.
In the end, it all comes down to win and you’re in for CSUF.
For more information on the CSUF women’s soccer team and all Titan Athletics, go to FullertonTitans.com.