The Cal State Fullerton Women’s soccer team earned its best season start in the program’s history after snagging a couple of victories over the weekend, all the while remaining undefeated.
The first game featured CSUF against Florida Gulf Coast University and the second against University of Nevada Las Vegas.
The Titans managed to leave victorious from two thrillers that came down to the wire.
With both teams coming into the game undefeated, the Titans were not only ready to extend their win streak to five, but also hand the Eagles their first loss.
It was a tale of two halves during regulation play as the Titans were off to a dream start, but they faltered down the stretch, allowing FGCU to tie the game at 3-3.
As soon as the game commenced, both teams worked diligently, implementing their styles of play to control the game.
Despite the power struggle, it was the Titans who managed to draw first blood early in the sixth minute. While dribbling down the left wing, midfielder Sarah Fajnor crossed the ball into the box, finding forward Ivy Diego for the header.
Diego’s goal opened the gates for CSUF, empowering the Titans to put the game beyond the Eagles’ reach.
With a total of seven corner kicks in the game, CSUF’s aggression on each attempt gave the Eagles a plethora of defensive problems.
The Titans relentlessly denied the Eagles’ attempts to clear the ball from trouble.
The Titans extended the lead to 3-0 with corner kick goals from forward Rebecca Wilson and defender Morgan Batcheller.
Wilson’s goal came in the 21st minute when she volleyed a poorly-cleared ball through a crowd of players from the penalty mark.
Batcheller’s goal was a well-placed tap-in after teammate Tatiana Rizzotti headed the ball down into open space right in front of the net, giving Batcheller the open shot.
The second half seemed like a different ball game as FGCU began to show that their 3-0-1 record was no fluke.
The Titans did not come out with the same intensity as they gave up three goals to the Eagles, tying the game in the 88th minute.
Heading into a golden goal over time, the Titans regained focus, attacking from all angles like they did during the first half.
In the 108th minute, CSUF drew a penalty after Wilson broke free, but was eventually brought down by an FGCU defender.
Luckily, forward Christina Burkenroad stepped up to calmly bury the penalty past the keeper, securing the 4-3 win for the Titans.
Head Coach Demian Brown admitted his team needed to improve their defence to better preserve the lead.
“I think in that Friday night game we made a really big mistake. We shut off,” Brown said. “We can’t do that in a Division I game regardless of what the lead is, and I think for us to come through that game learning that lesson is a good thing for us going forward.”
The next game saw the Titans up against a gritty UNLV team on a bright Sunday afternoon.
CSUF was able to edge out its opponents by only one goal, but the game itself was nothing short of sensational.
Each team came out swinging as the momentum of the game seesawed between the two sides.
The Titans had a whopping total of 17 shots on the afternoon, including six shots that drew iron. CSUF’s chances at the goal were created almost exclusively by UNLV turnovers.
The Titans would end up breaking the deadlock in the 81st minute.
It was the lethal combination of Burkenroad and Wilson linking up in the attacking third that gave Wilson the open shot and goal.
It was a sigh of relief for Fullerton as this 1-0 victory kept their win streak alive.
The Titans now sit with a 6-0 record, which is the best start in program history since the creation in 1992.
Brown spoke positively when asked if the chemistry amongst the group could be a factor to their stellar play.
“The group as a whole is a very close and tight-knit unit and so I think there is a lot of that that factors in,” Brown said. “The idea that they are all going out to play for each other.”