CSUF women’s soccer begin Big West play at Titan Stadium

Looking to defend their Big West regular season title, the Cal State Fullerton women’s soccer team kicks off conference play at Titan Stadium with a pair of matches this weekend, including a matchup with regular season runners-up and conference tournament champs Cal State Northridge on Sunday.

The Titans come into Big West play on a bit of a high having gone undefeated in the last three matches coming in. With wins over the USC and Gonzaga University and a draw against Pepperdine, the women of CSUF have put together a respectable 5-3-3 record before entering conference play.

Adding to the Titans’ hot streak as of late, the team received an additional boost when seniors Lindsey Maricic and Erica Mazeau took home Big West Player of the Week honors on defense and offense, respectively. Between the posts, Maricic has been sharp all season turning away an impressive 57 shots and posting four shutouts in her nine games played. While Mazeau leads the team with seven points and three assists, including assists in three consecutive matches.

Squaring off with the Titans in their opening match of Big West play on Friday are the Rainbow Wahine from the University of Hawai’i. The Rainbow Wahine will visit the Titans having won back-to-back 1-0 matches against Northern Arizona and Hawai’i Pacific. With a 5-4 record to this point, Hawai’i will be hoping to start off their Big West campaign on the right foot and better their lowly sixth placed finish in the league last season, where the Titans defeated the Rainbow Wahine on the road 1-0 in double overtime.

The Rainbow Wahine are not without firepower though. Junior forward Tiana Fujimoto has notched an impressive six goals on the season, including a hat trick against Idaho State on Sept. 13. While the Titans have shown they can be stingy on defense, they would be well served to keep an eye on the forward from Honolulu and not look past Hawai’i to their clash on Sunday.

That upcoming clash is of course the matchup between the Big West’s top two teams last season, as the Matadors of CSUN head down to Fullerton. Despite topping the Titans 1-0 in overtime of the Big West Championship last season and subsequently earning an NCAA Tournament berth, the Matadors have stumbled often in 2013 with a 5-6 record.

Letting in nearly two goals a game, CSUN has been nearly perfect at home but is a dismal 1-5 on the road. Naturally, you’d assume with the Titans at home, both those marks give CSUF a distinct advantage come Sunday. But with CSUF having problems all season scoring goals of their own, the Titans will need to be sharp up front if they hope to take the advantage in a season series that was split 1-1 against CSUN in 2012.

Titan Head Coach Demian Brown has been tinkering with formations recently to add some bite to the Fullerton attack. Pushing captain Chelsey Patterson further forward and deploying three forwards in the last few matches, the coach’s tactics have seen scoring in three straight matches after being shutout in the two matches prior. And while still last in the Big West scoring charts, the Titans have improved their goals per game average to 0.91 per game.

Look for the Titans to press high against the Warriors and seek an early goal to start their Big West season. A good performance on Friday could easily carry over to Sunday’s grudge match with CSUN. If the Titans manage to put complete games together on both sides of the ball, they’ll end the weekend with a great platform for the defense of their Big West regular season title.

For information on women’s soccer and all Titan Athletics, go to FullertonTitans.com

About Vincent La Rosa