The Matadors first foray into the NCAA Tournament came to a swift and brief ending at the hands of the hosting San Diego State University Aztecs Saturday night in the form of a 3-0 blowout.
A windy and gloomy night only intensified once rain started pelting the players midway through the first half and continued on and off for the rest of play, compounding an already tough night for the Matadors.
Starting out with their normal aggressive intensity, the Matadors tried to strike first against the Aztecs, putting their seasoned defense to the test. The Aztecs easily handled the Matadors multiple advances, not allowing CSUN to put a shot on goal in the first half.
“We had a lot more opportunities and were unable to put them away,” said redshirt sophomore Brittanie Sakajian. “The final third, just that last pass, the more we got that going, the more opportunities we could have had to put more shots on goal.”
Outpacing the Aztecs in shots taken, 16 to 8, the Aztecs were just able to make their few shots count in bigger situations.
“They took three shots in the first half and got two goals, that’s just hard to swallow,” said head coach Keith West. “We play team defense, if they score a goal, it’s got to be a great goal.”
The Aztecs, the No. 4 ranked team in the country, struck in the 10th minute on a play that saw senior goalkeeper Cynthia Jacobo leave her line, allowing an open net goal to be put in by SDSU forward Hannah Keane.
A long-ball by Aztecs defender Kory Spotts hung up in the air and took a bounce straight upwards in front of junior defender Chloe McDaniel, pulling Jacobo over, and allowing Keane to loop it over Jacobo’s head for the first score of the night.
“It was up in the air, it was bouncing, she just got her head on it and just put it over Cynthia, Cynthia tried to come get it,” McDaniel said.
Junior midfielder Amanda Smith had perhaps one of the best looks for the Matadors all night. Right after SDSU’s first goal, she tried to put a cross in front of the net, but was stopped by goalkeeper Rachel Boaz, who promptly grabbed the ball before it sailed into the net.
The Aztecs, reinvigorated by the goal and ensuing scare by Smith, padded their lead on a shot by forward Megan Jurado in a two-on-one counter attack less than ten minutes later. Wrapping the ball around a Matador defender and past a diving Jacobo in the upper right corner gave SDSU a commanding 2-0 lead.
Coming out of halftime, the Matadors’ offense was plagued by the same problems. Not being able to complete passes and play strong defense killed any hopes of a CSUN comeback.
Putting the final nail in the coffin, the Aztecs scored their final goal on a throw-in to the upper right box that was able to fly right by a diving Jacobo.
“You’re down 2-0 and you’re pressing up trying to make a play, and it happens,” West said.
Jacobo, CSUN’s all-time winning goalie and shutout leader, was unable to put her magic on what many may call a magical season, giving up three goals in net for the first time this season.
It was the Matadors first-ever trip to the NCAA tournament after claiming its first Big West title on Nov. 4.