Nov. 3, 2006
LONG BEACH, Calif. - Third-seeded Cal State Fullerton punched its ticket to the Big West Women's Soccer championship match thanks to a 2-1 upset win over second-seed UC Santa Barbara in the first semifinal of the 2006 Big West Women's Soccer Championship at George Allen Field in Long Beach.
The two squads were conservative early as both cautiously probed the other's defense looking for an opening and a quick advantage. The Titans had the first good scoring opportunity when Brianna Buffington swooped in the 10th minute to knock a ball away from Gaucho keeper Katie Wright, but UCSB's defense cleared the ball before any damage was done.
On the ensuing attack by UC Santa Barbara, Genelle Ives placed a shot that beat CSF keeper Karen Bardsley but scooted just wide. Both squads started to loosen up and get more offensive chances, but none were put in the goal just yet.
In the 34th minute, Cal State Fullerton's Candice Byler changed all that. After knocking a scoring chance wide just minutes prior, Byler curled a beautiful ball over the head of Wright and into the lower right netting for a 1-0 Titan lead. UCSB nearly got the equalzer just four minutes later, but Bardsley came off her line to clear an attempted cross by the Gauchos' Chandi Bickford. CSF nearly added to the lead right before the half on a corner by Byler, but the loose ball was cleared out of the box just before the halftime whistle.
In the second half, both squads came out aggressive looking for the next score. CSF's Brianna Buffington was turned away early by Wright, while Ives had a golden opportunity just minutes later that hit the post and fell out of play.
UC Santa Barbara would be rewarded for its hard work when Allie Kueny was given a penalty kick after being taken down in the box in the 64th minute. The senior forward cashed in the chance to knot the game at 1-1.
The Titans would not fold as they raced down the field and got the eventual game-winner just two minutes later. Stacey Thompson unleashed a rocket that caromed off the cross bar and right to teammate Casey Schostag, who chested it down and knocked it past Wright for the goal.
Down by a score, the Gauchos stepped up the pressure and got scoring chances but could not convert. The best chances were a shot over the crossbar by Sami Svrcek in the 68th minute and a diving header by Ives that was saved by Bardsley in the 72nd minute. The Titans were able to hold off UCSB the rest of the way for the win, including on two separate occasions where the ball was loose in the goal box.
For the match, Bardsley recorded seven saves, while her counterpart Wright recorded three. Byler led the Titans with four shots, while Schostag was the only other CSF player with more than one shot. Ives recorded five shots for the Gauchos, while Kueny added four.
With the win, Cal State Fullerton improves to 10-7-2, the third-straight year the Titans have reached double-digits in the win column. They also improved to 6-0-0 when scoring first. UC Santa Barbara sees its 2006 season end with a 7-7-2 overall record and a 5-1-1 mark in conference action.