After winning three straight games, the women’s soccer team returned to Cox Stadium Monday afternoon for a 2-1 win over the Hawaii Pacific University Sharks.
The Gators played strong and took advantage of the Sharks’ shaky defense. Within the first three minutes of the first half, midfielder Brittany Oldham made a quick pass to midfielder Elizet Ceja, who scored and brought the Gators up 1-0.
“It was our first time just attacking and it was good timing. I was there, I was set. Britt saw me and I had a shot,” said Ceja, who scored her second goal of the season. “Luckily the keeper was a little shorter and it just swooped in. It felt good, that one felt really good.
SF State remained strong and continued to attack the Sharks with an overall of seven shots on goal, while the Sharks had four in the first half.
The tempo of the game changed in the middle of the first half when Sharks’ forward Ashyln Ubongen came close to scoring. However, SF State goalkeeper Allison Land made a soaring save to end the first half with the Gators still in the lead.
“I think the first half saves were crucial,” said Land, who had a total of four saves in the game. “The team was playing very strong all together. When we all have each other’s back we all play a lot better, so that was key.”
The Gator’s head coach Jack Hyde was happy to see his team create a total of seven goal opportunities, but came short when the Shark’s goalkeeper Kelby Boswell blocked two in the first half.
“(In the) first half, I thought we could have had two, possibly three goals,” said Hyde. “We were our own worst enemies. We slowed down a little bit, but we got the win.”
Entering the second half, both teams came out hungry for a win.
In the 54th minute, Gator’s midfielder Kelsey Wetzstein made a cross to forward Autumn Fox, who made a short pass to Ceja for a 2-0 lead. Ceja made her second goal of the game and third overall in the season.
But the Gator’s momentum slowed down when Sharks’ forward Sara Romo drove a soaring shot into the Gator’s net, making the game 2-1.
The Sharks had a total of six shots on goal compared to the Gator’s three shots on goal in the second half. However, the Gator’s solid defenders including Stephanie Vanni, Molly Shuster and Sarah Guensler paired with Land’s solid saves kept the Sharks from scoring, and helped the team win their fourth game in a row.
The Gators (5-1) will return to action against 11 ranked Cal State Stanislaus (7-0) at Cox Stadium on Friday at 3:00 p.m.
“We have a big task ahead of us. Stanislaus is ranked very high and they got a good program,” said Hyde. “We need to determine the way we’re going to play them, that is what we’ll do on Wednesday and Thursday. Also it will be a case of watching two or three of their key players and getting prepared.”