CSUN women’s soccer team fought to the end Sunday afternoon in a game where bruised bodies matched uniform colors. Ultimately one of its biggest weaknesses came from a distance of 12 yards and led to the Matadors’ end.
Kaycee Hoover hit the game winning penalty kick past Jovani McCaskill and CSUN fell to Cal State Fullerton 1-1 (4-3 in PK’s) in the Big West tournament final. The win also helped the Titans clinch an invitation to the NCAA tournament.
“I’m really proud of this team,” coach Keith West said. “This was a well fought game between two of the best teams in the Big West. It was a great game and it was fitting that the game was decided on penalty kicks. Congrats to Fullerton. They are a great program and deserved this victory.”
The first half was dominated by Cal State Fullerton who possessed the ball for 35 minutes. Forward Atlanta Primus and Samantha Koemans were feeding off one another and the Titans outshot CSUN 9-1 in the first half. Despite the multiple scoring chances, the Matadors defense held firm and the score was tied up at 0-0 in the first half.
CSUN’s defense turned back opportunities but the flat-footed play in the first half limited the Matadors chances on offense.
In the second half the Titans scored in the 55th minute on a corner kick that was finished by Nano Oronoz. Primus crossed the ball far side and Oronoz finished in the box past McCaskill to give Cal State Fullerton the 1-0 lead.
The Matadors started to play with better touches and physicality. CSUN’s strength and patience set up Marissa Favela’s tying penalty kick in the 80th minute.
Lindsay Kutscher found space in the goal box and received a pass from Destinney Duron. Kutscher was fouled by Hoover in the goal box and allowed Favela to tie the match. Favela put a shot past Titans goalkeeper Morgan Bertsch and sent the Matadors bench into a frenzy with Duron limping to hug her teammates.
Duron played 66 minutes despite playing through a severely sprained ankle but her pass to Kutscher kept the Matadors season alive.
After two overtimes and 110 minutes played, the game ultimately went into the unforgiving nature of penalty kicks.
Despite the loss, the Matadors surpassed expectations after being picked to finished sixth in the Big West preseason poll.