CSUF women’s soccer ties against UC Davis in physical match

In Sports

Cal State Fullerton women’s soccer earned its first tie of conference play in a 1-1 draw against UC Davis. The Titans controlled the tempo for the majority of the match against the Aggies, but a slew of controversial calls shifted momentum in favor of the visitors.

“It’s good to get a point,” said Titans goalkeeper Morgan Bertsch. “Points are good anywhere in conference, but we missed out on two extra points today.”

The majority of the first half showcased the Titans on attack. Whenever the Aggies maneuvered into the teeth of the defense, the Titans quickly forced the ball out of trouble through communication and teamwork.

A few prior corner kicks came up empty handed, but CSUF did not abandon its game plan. The team earned a 1-0 lead after a header from Kaycee Hoover found the back of the net thanks to an Atlanta Primus corner. UC Davis only managed to get one shot off in the first half.

“I think we play really, really well in our shape,” Bertsch said of her defense. “Our shape and our discipline and our fitness definitely helps me out.”

The match got scrappy after the second-half kicked off, with the momentum shifting after Titans midfielder Samantha Koemans found herself exchanging shoves with Aggies midfielder Ari Zamora. Both received yellow cards for the altercation, which paved the way for more physicality.

The referees were put on alert when Aggies midfielder Mandy McKeegan collided with Bertsch in the goalie’s box after she had secured possession of the ball. Bertsch was noticeably roughed up on the play but had little time to catch her breath.

Five minutes later, an Aggies shot pinballed off Bertsch’s body, the crossbar and goal post before Titans midfielder Jessica Simonian was given a red card for a deliberate handball in the goalie’s box, forcing the Titans to continue the match one player down as the officials awarded the Aggies a penalty kick.

The action forced the referees to stop the match to sort out the mess and communicate their decision to the players and coaches.

Whatever the reason, Bertsch was just grateful for the breather.

“I took a second for myself because I was a little beaten up throughout the second half,” Bertsch said. “I took a second with the ref, telling him ‘Just give me a sec, give me a sec.’”

Just when the Aggies thought they were back in the game, Bertsch dove in the direction of the ensuing free kick and punched the ball out of bounds.

“As a goalkeeper, I think everything comes down to those types of moments. You have to be able to make a split-second save,” Bertsch said. “I watch film all the time, and (Titans Assistant Head Coach Michael Thomas) and I discussed penalty kicks at the start of the game. She put it right where I knew she was gonna put it and I came away with it.”

The pressure during the penalty was no problem for Bertsch, but patching the holes of an absent player was too tall a task for the fatigued Titans. Following the penalty save, forward Mahlah Catline found the back of the net courtesy of a corner kick from by McKeegan.

Yellow cards continued to plague the game following the goal. Titans forward Sarah Fajnor and defender Nano Oronoz picked up fouls, but neither harmed nor helped the team’s effort to secure a victory.

Neither side could scratch in overtime, so when the final whistle sounded, the scoreboard still read 1-1.

“I’m personally not satisfied,” Koemans said. “We knew that in the Big West, we got to make things happen. I think we fell short on the little things.”

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