The Matadors beat Detroit and Hawaii at the Ohana Hotels and Resorts Soccer Invitational by identical scores of 2-1 last weekend. They needed an overtime period to finish Detroit and a stellar game by goalkeeper Kellie Drenner to stave off Hawaii.
“I’m very happy with our performance,” said CSUN head coach Keith West. “We’re finally finding a way to bring energy to every game.”
Midfielder Mary Ortega started the tournament quickly against Detroit, burying a shot from six yards out in the seventh minute. The early goal was the fastest start by the Matadors all season and it set the tone for the rest of the tournament.
Detroit’s Mary Parker evened the score at one early in the second half, lifting a shot past Drenner into the upper-right corner of the net. This after Drenner denied a pair of shots by Parker late in the first half.
The rest of regulation was an exhibition of goalkeeping by Drenner and Detroit goalie Katie Fortenberry. Drenner blocked another shot by Parker late in the second while Fortenberry had two saves late in the game on shots by Carrie Faith Murphy and Sydney Vermillion to send the match into overtime.
The end came in the eighth minute of the overtime period when defender Sara Davis crossed the ball to midfielder Tessa Binkley, who sent a roller to the right side of the net past Fortenberry.
“Sara hit me a pass over the top,” Binkley said. “I trapped it and pushed it in. It wasn’t the best goal, but it went in.”
The win propelled the Matadors to a showdown against the hometown favorite University of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium.
Once again, the Matadors started quickly with a goal by Kristal Phillips in the fifth minute. Defender Naleena Betancourt sent a long ball over the Hawaii defense to a sprinting Phillips who chipped it over Rainbow Wahine keeper Kori Lu for her team-leading third goal of the season.
Drenner preserved the lead, making three saves in the final 12 minutes of the first half. She blocked shots by Koren Takeyama and Jessica Domingo 35 seconds apart and Taryn Fukuroku in the 40th minute. The Matadors held a 1-0 lead at the half despite being outshot 9-3.
Hawaii turned it up a notch offensively in the second half, but Drenner was equal to the challenge. Drenner made a save on Kelli-Anne Chang in the 65th minute and was helped out by the goalpost on a shot by Kelly McCloskey 30 seconds later.
The Rainbow Wahine finally broke through the stubborn Drenner with a blast from Fukuroku into the middle of the net to tie the score.
The goal awakened the CSUN offense and once again Binkley was at the forefront. She gained possession of the ball near midfield and sent it past the Hawaii defense to a hard-charging Krohn, who side-stepped Lu and sent a shot into the back of an empty net.
“Kristy got the monkey off her back with her first goal of the season,” West said.
Hawaii outshot CSUN 17-13, but outstanding goalkeeping and timely offense earned the Matadors the win and the tournament.
“Our character really shined through,” said West. “All the girls were awesome-nobody didn’t impress me.”
Betancourt, Krohn and Phillips were each named to the All-Tournament Team, while junior midfielder Susie Mischenko was named tournament MVP.
“Susie was awesome offensively and defensively,” West said. “She was all over the place.”
The Matadors improved their record to 6-4-0 with the two victories.
They begin conference play on Friday with their Big West opener against UC Irvine at Matador Soccer Field. CSUN has amassed the fourth best non-conference record among the eight Big West teams, while Irvine has the worst non-conference record at 2-6-0.
“League will be much more competitive,” said Binkley. “I think everybody in our league will be good. All the games should be fun and exciting.”