Junior midfielder Nicole Vanni scored two goals to lead the SF State women’s soccer team wire-to-wire dominance in its 3-0 win over Humboldt State University on Friday at Cox Stadium.
The Gators came into the game ranked fifth in the West Region of NCAA Division II. They expected to outman the Lumberjacks, who have yet to win a game in California Collegiate Athletic Association play.
“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, our record’s 0-0. We’ve got to take it to whoever we’re playing every day,” said assistant coach Stephanie Wieger.
Vanni wasted no time in asserting the Gator’s control by scoring in just the fifth minute of play. Vanni found space on the left side of the penalty box and was met by a perfect skidding pass from freshman Chloe Harrington. Vanni needed just simple inside-foot redirection to put the Gators up 1-0.
“To have that goal to rest upon was nice,” Vanni said. “We could just calm down and focus on what we needed to do.”
SF State stifled the Humbolt attack throughout the game. The Lumberjacks rarely entered the Gator’s defensive third. Senior goalkeeper Annicia Jones was hardly tested by any Humbolt scoring attempts. The game marked the defense’s sixth shutout in seven games this season.
Much of the Gator’s ability to stop their opponents comes from their cohesive back line, which allowed Jones to be a spectator for most of the match.
“I feel like [the defense] we’re just like one with each other. We just move with each other,” said junior defender Lauren Duran.
The defensive cause was aided by forwards Justine Hernandez and Kiley Williams who attacked the Humboldt defenders when they had possession limiting the Lumberjacks’ ability to mount a counterattack.
Though they controlled possession and had the bulk of the scoring chances, the Gators were only able to put two shots on goal in the first half and entered the intermission 1-0.
The second goal came in the 65 minute on a remarkable bit of teamwork where the ball traveled a good 50 yards and was touched by two Gators without ever hitting the ground.
Junior defender Tamerra Griffin fired in a cross to Harrington who was held in place by a defender on her back. Harrington guided the ball straight backward off the top of her head to Hernandez who connected on a header herself, this time into the open net.
It was Harrington’s second assist of the match and team’s high, fourth for the season.
The victory became a sure thing in the 76 minute when Williams got lost in a Humboldt defense that seemed to tire in the final minutes. She had time to turn and thread a pass that hit a streaking Vanni in stride. Vanni beat the keeper with a first-touch toe poke for her second goal of the game and a commanding 3-0 lead for the Gators.
“Sometimes you just get an attacking player who’s always in the right place at the right time,” Wieger said.
Vanni scored her fifth and sixth goals of the season in the match. She has scored two-thirds of her teams goals for the year and has four goals in the last two games.
“It’s really a whole team effort,” Vanni said. “When you’re doing what you need to do, more goals just follow.”
The Gator offense has come alive of recent. The team scored just four goals in its first five games of the season, but has five in the last two matches.
“It feels good to score and if we keep it up, I just see only going up from here,” said defender Lauren Duran.
The Gators hope to continue their strong play on Sunday when they face a tough Sonoma State team.