The Stanislaus State Warriors (4-3-1) women’s soccer team kicked off their first CCAA conference games of the season in style by securing a hard-fought tie against the CSU Monterey Bay Sea Otters (3-2-3) on Friday and booting the CSU Dominguez Hills Toros (3-5-0) 2-0 on Sunday.
Focus and intensity was apparent at Warrior Stadium on Friday, as the air was thick with anticipation as the Stan State Warriors warmed up to the energetic tunes of ‘Baila Baila Baila’ by Ozuna. The Warriors knew that they had a tough opponent in Monterey Bay, as they had lost 2-1 in an earlier match with the Sea Otters during the preseason.
From the opening whistle, the game quickly turned into a hard-fought defensive slugfest between the two squads. The Sea Otters outshot the Warriors 19-10, but disciplined defensive play mitigated much of the risk from Monterey Bay's attack. This discipline from the Warriors frustrated the Sea Otters who ended the game with four yellow cards.
After two tense overtime periods, the score settled in a 0-0 tie with tons of heart-skipping action along the way.
According to Head Coach Gabriel Bolton in a post-game interview with The Signal, the offense was “out of sync." He was sure to praise the solid defense throughout the game and called it a team effort.
Bolton would also point to goalkeeper Amanda Leal (masters, Business Administration) as the defensive anchor for the Warriors on Friday and “one of the best, if not the best goalkeeper in our conference.”
Leal attributed her stand-out performance to the overall team effort and her other defenders.
“Me and the backline have a solid relationship… and I need them as much as they need me.” Leal said. “I feel like there's a level of trust between the coaching staff and me and the back line.”
Ilena Rivera (senior, Kinesiology), the standout offensive player with 6 of the Warrior’s 10 shots on the day, pointed to the adjustments made since their last matchup against Monterey Bay as the key factor in the decision on Friday. Ultimately, Rivera believed that the Warrior offense "needs to be a bit more dynamic to be able to score and win these types of games.”
When asked to look forward to the rest of the season, Bolton responded by looking to the past.
“Honestly we’re just really excited that we’re having a conference season after what we went through last year, having to sit out as long as we did.”
Bolton was proud of his team for sticking together during tough times, and pointed to their resilience and ability to get their entire roster fully vaccinated.
On Sunday, the Warriors were led to victory by Rayana Plancarte’s (senior, Communication Studies) 2 goal effort. Both goals were assisted by Kendel Gisin (sophomore, Psychology and Criminal Justice). Gisin was also a notable contributor to the defensive effort in Friday night’s game with a multitude of slide tackles and great hustle.
Since the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) announced a cancellation of all athletic events for the entire 2020-21 academic year, the Stan State women’s soccer team has remained positive with a renewed focus on the 2021-2022 season.
The Warriors were humble yet hungry for the success in their last season in 2019, when they advanced all the way to the NCAA tournament. “Hopefully we get back there again,” said Rivera.
Leal had a more measured approach: “We’re taking the rest of the season one game at a time."
With either long-term strategy, or a combination of the two, the rest of the season looks bright for the Warrior women’s soccer squad.
You can catch the Warriors' next game on Friday, October 8 against Cal Poly Pomona on the CCAA streaming service. The Warrior's next home game will be Thursday, October 14 against CSU Humboldt. Games are always on Thursdays/Fridays and Sundays every week and all games are always streamed here.