Despite losing their unbeaten Big West record in their last match versus UC Riverside, the Cal State Fullerton women’s soccer team has the chance to climb the Big West table this weekend with matches against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and UC Santa Barbara.
Riding a five-game unbeaten streak heading into their match at Riverside, the Titans were once again done in by their lack of finishing, as just a single goal was enough to hand CSUF their first Big West loss of the season.
With matches against two of the top three scoring Big West teams upcoming, the Titans will have to find their finishing touch fast or risk losing even more ground on the conference’s front runners.
First up for the Titans is an away trip to San Luis Obispo on Friday night at 7 p.m. to take on the Mustangs of Cal Poly SLO. The Mustangs currently sit tied for the Big West’s top spot with UC Irvine and UC Riverside with nine points. Having won two straight matches, Cal Poly SLO is 3-1 in their last four matches with nine goals scored over the course of that span.
Reigning Big West Conference Freshman of the Year Elise Krieghoff has picked up where she left off in 2012 for the Mustangs, leading her team and the Big West in goals with 16. Add to that three assists and the forward is also the Big West points leader with an astounding 35 points in just 14 matches so far.
With the Titans leading the Big West defensively with a paltry 11 goals against, it will be interesting to see how CSUF lines up to contain Cal Poly SLO’s potent attack come this Friday.
Following their trip up the coast, CSUF returns home to Titan Stadium for a Sunday night match against the Gauchos of UCSB. Sitting just two points clear of the Titans, the Gauchos have had a back and forth 2013 with an 8-6-1 record. Despite defeating first place UCI in their opening Big West match, UCSB lost its next two matches in conference play before righting the ship with a 1-0 victory away to the Cal State Northridge Matadors.
The Gauchos strength starts in the back with their goalkeeper Beth Ritter. The sophomore shot-stopper has anchored the UCSB women with seven shutouts in her 12 starts so far this season. Boasting a Big West best 0.65 goals against average in 2013, Ritter has been almost unbeatable in the goal. Couple that with the Titans’ woes in front of net, and it could be a recipe for disaster for CSUF.
However, the Titans have a weapon of their own at the back. Senior goalkeeper Lindsey Maricic has been without a doubt the Titans’ most valuable player this season. With CSUF struggling to score much of the season, Maricic has stolen quite a few games for the Titans with her 0.76 goals against average and conference best .880 save percentage.
With goals hard to come by for CSUF, Head Coach Demian Brown has consistently touted his 2013 side by focusing on being sharp defensively above anything else. If the team isn’t scoring, the Titans remain hard to beat on the basis of their work in front of their own goal.
This weekend, CSUF has to hope the goals are not too far away, but even if they do fail to score boatloads, nothing can stymie an opponent like a stout defense and a hot goalkeeper. It might fall on Maricic to again steal matches for the Titans, but it’s a task she’s proven herself to be up for thus far in the 2013 season.
Sunday’s match against the Gauchos will be played at Titan Stadium at 6 p.m.
For more information on the CSUF women’s soccer team and all Titan Athletics, go to FullertonTitans.com.