Two wins are all that separate Cal State Fullerton women’s soccer from the NCAA tournament. With the Titans set to take on the UC Irvine Anteaters, Fullerton has a shot to make it to the Big West Tournament final.
This is the sixth consecutive year that the Titans have made it to the Big West Conference Tournament, but Titans Head Coach Demian Brown was confident his team would make it this far.
“We have a motivated group of seniors that are going to get the team around the idea that in their senior year, playing in the tournament is going to happen,” Brown said.
UCI took the top spot on the Big West leaderboard with a 5-2-1 record, and with the Anteaters sitting in first, it’s no surprise they dominated the Big West Women’s Soccer All-Conference individual awards, with four Anteaters among the six recipients.
The Titans — the Big West’s No. 4 seed — claimed awards and accolades as well. Senior goalkeeper Morgan Bertsch was awarded the 2017 Big West Co-Goalkeeper of the Year and is the fifth Titan to receive the accolade, sharing the title with Jovani McCaskill of Cal State Northridge.
This is the first time since 2001 that the honor has been shared by players.
“I think for her, it’s extremely well deserved. She’s had an outstanding year. She’s had a very patient career,” Brown said. “Hopefully for her, this validates her commitment to the program.”
Along with Bertsch, senior Sarah Fajnor and junior Nano Oronoz earned first-team roster spots for the 2017 All-Big West soccer team. Fajnor is a two-time All-Big West first-team selection.
Four Titans also received Big West All-Conference Honors. Seniors Samantha Koemans, Tala Haddad, Kaycee Hoover and Connie Caliz claimed their honors alongside sophomore forward Atlanta Primus.
Samantha McKenna also received a spot on the 2017 All-Freshman team roster. Brown said this is a huge achievement for McKenna, considering she didn’t start in any matches where the lineup was dominated by the seniors on the team.
“Hopefully this propels her career going forward,” Brown said. “I think what this will hopefully do is build up her confidence that she will definitely be able to replace the likes of Sarah Fajnor.”
Thursday’s matchup with the Anteaters is a rematch of the 2016 Big West Conference Tournament, in which the game went into two rounds of overtime and was forced into penalty kicks, after which the Anteaters came out on top 4-2.
“Come game day, we’ll leave the award stuff alone and focus on the game at hand,” Brown said.
The Titans will look for a different outcome as they play the Anteaters on Nov. 2 at 5 p.m. at Matador Field.
“We have an opportunity to win two games and represent our conference in the NCAA tournament. That’s what our single mindset is on now,” Brown said.