SF State’s second-year defender AJ Tanner (6) extends her leg back to drive a long pass up the field in the Gators’ 3-1 loss to Sonoma State Saturday, September 25, 2021, in Rohnert Park. (Albert Gregory / Golden Gate Xpress) (Albert Gregory)
SF State’s second-year defender AJ Tanner (6) extends her leg back to drive a long pass up the field in the Gators’ 3-1 loss to Sonoma State Saturday, September 25, 2021, in Rohnert Park. (Albert Gregory / Golden Gate Xpress)

Albert Gregory

First-half woes lead to loss for women’s soccer

September 25, 2021

The SF State women’s soccer team could not stop the first-half offensive barrage from Sonoma State University, in a 3-1 loss Saturday evening in Rohnert Park.

The Gators (2-5) entered Saturday’s match looking to continue its positive momentum after snagging two wins in the last three matches, including a one-score victory over Dominican University (0-2-2) in San Rafael and an overtime win defeating Oakland’s Holy Names University (0-6) at home in Cox Stadium.

Sonoma State (5-1) came into the match with one of the most potent offenses and stout defenses in the state, outscoring opponents 13-2 in the first five matches of the season.

After the pandemic forced the Gators to cancel their 2020 season, they entered the 2021 season with a relatively new coaching staff.

Prior to the season, the school named John DeMartini the head coach, after he previously served as assistant coach to SF State in 2019 and a volunteer assistant coach in 2018.

“I think one thing that was good was John was with the team as an assistant before, so over the break, he was in touch with [the team] the whole time, “Gators’ assistant coach Jessica Hewens said. “Especially with a lot of new players coming on, he did a really great job of getting them together early, even if it was over Zoom.”

Hewens joins Demartini in her first season as an assistant coach for the Gators after she spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach at Menlo College in Atherton. Hewens played college soccer her freshman year at Sacramento State and finished her college career starting every game at Humboldt State from 2004-06.

“I’ve got three amazing female assistants that have all played at a super high level of the game, and it makes my job incredibly easy because of my confidence and faith in them and the stuff that they can do and see,” DeMartini said.

SF State’s second-year AJ Tanner (6) corrals ball and looks for an open teammate in the Gators’ 3-1 loss to the Seawolves Saturday, September 25, 2021, in Rohnert Park. (Albert Gregory / Golden Gate Xpress) (Albert Gregory)

In Saturday’s match, the Seawolves put their talent on full display from the first whistle and scored all three of their goals in the first half.

Sonoma State’s Kaci Holiday scored the Seawolves’ first goal less than two minutes into the match to take a 1-0 lead.

Ten minutes later, Molly Murphy found the back of the net again for the Seawolves, and SF State found itself climbing out of a 2-0 deficit early in the match.

The Gators were fighting to maintain possession for most of the game

Late in the half, the Seawolves’ Malia Falk scored after corralling the ball off a long pass, she then fought off one SF State defender and faked out the Gators’ goalkeeper — leaving her an open net that she softly sent the ball into.

Sonoma led 3-0.

With less than five minutes left in the first half, SF State’s Rylie Velez collected the ball on a long pass, sprinted downfield past a Seawolves’ defender and sent a hard strike across the Sonoma goalie’s outstretched hands and into the back of the net.

The Gators trailed 3-1 at the half.

In the second half, the Gators came out much more aggressive, and the time of possession was much more balanced.

“We just came in[to the game] extremely nervous and we just overestimated them,” Gators’ second-year defender Allie Vargas said. “Once we came in acting like this was just another game, then we were able to possess the ball a lot more and keep it in their half a lot more.”

Despite not allowing a goal in the second half, the Gators were unable to get the ball in Sonoma’s net.

Both teams locked down on defense in the second half. At the end of regulation, the score remained 3-1 and the Seawolves held on to the victory.

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