A year ago, the Titans lost on a heartbreaking, game-winning goal in the Big West Championship.
This year, they’ll face the UC Davis Aggies to seek redemption.
Although Cal State Fullerton finds itself in the Big West Championship for the fourth consecutive year, Titans Head Coach George Kuntz and his team didn’t dwell too much on the victory that sent them there.
Instead, they treated the win over the UC Riverside Highlanders as a stepping stone to the real goal.
“We didn’t celebrate too much because our expectation is to be there. Our journey is to go through the next wall,” Kuntz said. “They’ve had some lows this season but they bounced back. We don’t dwell too much on the last. We work until the next.”
Fullerton hasn’t won a Big West title since 2015, but senior midfielder Diego Sanchez said the Titans are as hungry — or possibly even hungrier — than a team that’s never won before.
“This is rare and it doesn’t happen often, so we have to embrace it and work hard for it,” Sanchez said.
The team CSUF will face for the cup is a familiar one, as Fullerton already lost 2-1 against UC Davis early in conference play.
Titans team captain Nicolo D’Amato said the game was a small setback for the team, but the loss has only fueled its motivation to win big Saturday.
“I think we just came out slow against them,” D’Amato said. “Our chemistry wasn’t as good in the beginning of the year … Now we’re ready for them.”
Despite finding the motivation to come out strong this weekend, Sanchez also said the Titans’ mindset on the field will contribute to the outcome.
“I think we’ve been coming into the training this whole week focused and prepared and visualizing us winning the Big West,” Sanchez said.
The week off from competitive play has also helped the Titans recuperate from injuries they endured during tournament play and prepare for the changes they’ll make to the back line of their defense.
“Some guys are banged up, so we’re just making sure everyone is getting back to good health,” D’Amato said. “There’s a few changes that are going to be made, and I think the week off has helped other guys step into new roles that they’re going to be in this weekend.”
That is the least Sanchez’ worries, who said the consistent adjustments to the squad’s positions throughout the season has prepared them for any changes they’ll have to make.
“I think it gives us motivation to come out and play stronger and harder,” Sanchez said.
D’Amato said the squad is more than prepared mentally and physically as they hope to bring the title back to Fullerton and continue on in the NCAA tournament.
“We’ve been training for this all year and the time is coming, so the expectation is to give it everything we have,” D’Amato said.