Amy Aquino has a soft-spoken presence off the field but on the field her play is hard-nosed and lethal. With the Matadors trailing in the 63rd minute, the freshman stepped up when her team needed it the most.
Aquino came over the middle, received a pass from Cynthia Sanchez and blasted a shot into the net to give CSUN its first goal in two games. After the 61st minute goal, Aquino and the Matadors maintained pressure and poise to preserve a 1-1 tie at home against UCSB in its conference home opener Thursday night.
“I’m proud of the way the girls grinded,” coach Keith West said. “In life you deal with adversity, in life and they handled the pressure very well. I think this game was a stepping stone on what’s hopefully to come.”
The tie gave the Matadors (4-4-5, 0-1-1) its first points of the Big West season and will play UC Riverside at home Sunday.
“This was a great moment for us,” Sanchez said. “We had been in a bit of a funk but we never stop fighting, we never quit and we don’t stop working.”
The Gauchos got itself off to a strong start in the 15th minute. After two graceful volleys by the pair of Shaelan Murison and Chace Schornstein, Christine Maurer added the finish to give UCSB (4-6-4, 0-2-1) the 1-0 lead.
“Again this team battled,” West said. “They fought through some early adversity and then did what they had to recover and finish. I’m proud of them.”
Sanchez played with more assertion in the second half. After probing the near sideline in the 58th minute, she was able to draw the attention of UCSB’s defense.
Aquino penetrated the middle and with a crisp touch from Sanchez buried her second goal of the season.
“I was just glad that I could be there for my team,” Aquino said. “Cynthia gave me a great ball and just did what I had to do for the team.”