Titans earn fifth draw of season against Matadors

A header by sophomore defender Morgan Batcheller in the 72nd minute forced overtime for the Cal State Fullerton women’s soccer team at home against Cal State Northridge on Sunday, but both teams would have to settle for a draw after two overtime periods.

 A rematch of last season’s Big West Tournament final, the Titans headed into their match with the Matadors hoping to remain perfect through the first weekend of Big West play. But just as they did against the University of Hawai’i on Friday, the Titans spotted their opposition with the initial advantage, giving up the first goal of the game in the 36th minute.

 Starting the match with a much more energized and promising first 30 minutes than their previous match, CSUF looked determined with strong pressure in the Matadors’ half and purposeful passing all around the pitch. But while the Titans did well to put CSUN under some initial pressure, it would be the Matadors drawing first blood in the match.

 Winning a throw-in deep in the Titans’ half, CSUN junior Leandra Walker picked out sophomore forward Kendall Moskal near the right corner of the Titan penalty area. Collecting the ball with ample amounts of time, Moskal easily sidestepped the challenge of Titan midfielder Chelsey Patterson before picking her head up and hitting a right-footed shot towards CSUF senior goalkeeper Lindsey Maricic.

Unfortunately for the Titans, Maricic could only get fingertips to the dipping shot before it hit the underside of the crossbar and landed just behind the Titans’ goal line for the game’s opening strike. Despite giving up the first goal for the second straight match, it was Maricic saving the Titans from further damage in the first half with two great last ditch efforts to foil Matador forwards breaking behind the CSUF back line.

“It was a tale of two different halves again,” Head Coach Demian Brown said. “I think that we made some good changes in the locker room to come out in the second half and we were a completely different team.”

Senior forward Nikki McCants and a Matador defender battle for the ball.

Senior forward Nikki McCants and a Matador defender battle for the ball.

Coming out for the second half a goal behind, CSUF ratcheted up the pressure on the Matadors outshooting them 11-4. But it wasn’t until the Titans won a corner in the 72nd minute and made a quick substitution, sending Batchellor back into the match, that the team was able put a strike beyond the Matadors’ goal line.

Rising high above the Matador defense, Batcheller nodded down the corner off the boot of senior midfielder Erica Mazeau from the right side to level the match at one apiece. The goal was the defender’s second of the season. Mazeau’s assist to Batcheller was her fifth point in five matches.

“I knew I just needed to come in and I was going back at centerback but we had a chance at a corner kick and I just needed to help the team out,” Batcheller said of her equalizer. “Erica (Mazeau) put a great ball in like she did against USC and I was right there in my spot.”

With momentum on their side following the tying goal, the Titans searched for the match winner but were turned away multiple times by Matador goalkeeper Cynthia Tafoya, who finished the night with nine saves. In the resulting overtime periods, each team traded clear cut opportunities, and the Titans narrowly escaped defeat when junior defender Carmen Ortega raced back to clear a Matador shot off the Titan goal line in the second overtime.

Ending 1-1, the Titans remain undefeated in Big West play at 1-0-1 and push their overall record to 6-3-4 despite only managing to net more than one goal in a match four times this year and never scoring more than two goals in any single match.

“In training we’re constantly shooting. That’s what our key thing is at practice, we’re shooting,” Mazeau said of the team’s offensive woes after the match. “We just got to keep practicing and hopefully we will find it one game.”

After two matches at home to start league play, the Titans will hit the road in their next match when they travel to Riverside to take on early Big West frontrunners, the UC Riverside Highlanders.

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

About Vincent La Rosa