Gators eliminated in CCAA playoffs, fall to dominant UC San Diego
UC San Diego defeated SF State 5-0 on Nov. 2 to eliminate the Gators from the conference playoffs.
Nationally ranked UC San Diego dominated SF State in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) semifinals. The Tritons dominated offensively, having 22 total shots and 15 shots on goal, while SF State only had two shots and neither of them were on goal.
Senior forward Mary Reilly scored in the 21st minute for her team leading 14th goal of the season and junior midfielder Natalie Saddic scored in the 37th minute to give the Tritons a 2-0 lead heading into halftime. UC San Diego scored quick back-to-back goals in the second half, with sophomore forward Maddy Samilo scoring in the 54th minute and senior midfielder Summer Bales scoring her first goal of the season in the 59th minute. The Tritons’ final goal came in the 74th minute when freshman defender Ashlynn Kolarik scored her second goal of the season.
UC San Diego went on to defeat Sonoma State 3-1 on Nov. 4, and win their fourth straight CCAA championship.
Despite the tough loss, head coach Tracy Hamm is pleased with her team’s performance this year.
“I’m looking forward to next year,” Hamm said. “We had four wins in a row, we beat teams that we’ve never beaten before. There are a lot of proud moments that I’ve had this season.”
This is Hamm’s fourth season as SF State head coach, she hopes to build off the success of this year and make an even deeper run next postseason.
“We’re a young group, so I was really proud of what we were able to accomplish,” Hamm said. “The next step moving forward is we can’t just be happy to get [to the playoffs].”
Sophomore goalkeeper Nicki Rucki had a stellar season with the Gators with a save percentage of 92 percent and six shutouts in conference matches.
“Nicki has been phenomenal in all of our games,” Hamm said. “She has come up with some enormous saves for us that have kept us in the game.”
Rucki was named CCAA goalkeeper of the year and named to the first team All-CCAA women’s soccer team, along with sophomore forward Tami Kwong, who led the Gators with five goals. Senior midfielder Marriah Perez and sophomore defender Janessa Staab made the All-CCAA second team.
“We’ve come a long way since the beginning of the season,” Perez said.
After starting the season 1-3, the Gators were able to finish the regular season on a four-game winning streak, including an upset victory over undefeated Chico State on Oct. 21.
The game against Chico State is an example of what differentiates this team from years past, according to senior midfielder Ally King.
“That showed what we’re about, leaving it all out on the field,” King said. “I think every person who stepped on the field did just that. I couldn’t ask for better teammates.”
The Gators finished the season 10-6-3 and a conference record of 7-3-2. They placed fourth in the CCAA standings and qualified for the CCAA playoffs for the first time since 2010. SF State hosted Cal State San Marcos in the first round and beat the Cougars via penalty kicks.