By Zacharias Strohecker, Sept. 14, 2021

The CPP women’s soccer team kicked off the fall season with a shutout victory over CSUSB, employing their signature aggressive attacking style and physicality. Exerting control and pace throughout the game, the team yielded a 2-0 scoresheet.

The first goal of the season was scored by forward Emma Barrow, a transfer graduate student who scored in her first game for CPP, followed by an own goal from CSUSB. An own goal occurs when a team accidentally scores in their own goal instead of the other team’s.

“It was a long time coming and we played really hard as a team and we played for each other,” said Barrow.

As other CPP sports teams have undergone numerous changes this season, the women’s soccer team faces the challenge of adapting to an almost completely altered roster. However, the team’s Head Coach, Jay Mason, is up for the challenge.

“We have 12 new players that have never played college soccer before and then we do have the opposite end of that spectrum where we have six upperclassmen that have come back to go to grad school and girls that have a ton of experience,” said Mason. “So, it’s getting those two groups connected and getting the new players acclimated to what the intensity looks like, how to balance their time and their energy.”

A CSUSB breakaway play toward the goal was stopped by CPP defense. (Zacharias Strohecker | The Poly Post)

Returning to in-person activity after over a year of virtual learning, the sophomores on the team are really freshmen in terms of collegiate level play experience, according to Mason.

Despite these concerns, the coaches poll, an aggregate ranking of all conferences’ coaches season predictions, placed the women’s CPP team at the number two ranking in the CCAA.

Sonoma State took the number one spot on the ranking, stoking the flames for CPP’s most anticipated game of the season at Seawolf Soccer Field on Oct. 1.

“Last time we played Sonoma in 2019 we tied in double OT,” said Taylor Scott, star forward and top goal scorer during the 2019-2020 season.

Only six teams from the region will move on to the CCAA tournament at the end of the season. The selected teams from each conference will play in the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament.

Those that win will advance to the west regional final, then to the quarterfinals of the championship bracket.

Jessica Llamas strikes the ball toward the CSUSB goalkeeper.

According to Barrow, the team has practiced consistently since July 5 in preparation for the fall season.

“I think it’s been hard for everyone in every team because of the COVID restrictions because we have so many new players, but every other team in our conference is facing that challenge as well,” said Barrow. “We’re just happy and excited to be here at this point and finally get our first win.”

Cognizant of the potential for injuries this season, Mason acknowledged the team is taking extra precautions to preserve the health of the team.

“We don’t want to over-train,” said Mason. “It’s hard to replicate the stress of playing collegiate athletics. As far as it’s being consistent, I think it’s going to take us maybe five or six games to really allow people the opportunity to build their confidence within a system.”

With 17 games included in the regular season for CPP, the first six non-conference matches will be followed by 11 CCAA games. CPP will host the CCAA regional tournament at Kellogg Stadium on Nov. 7.

The winner of the regional tournament will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament bracket held in Colorado Springs, Colo. from Dec. 2 to Dec 5.

“It’s going to take a lot of hard work, but I mean to be in Colorado Springs would be, for our coaching staff and our girls, probably a dream come true to have that opportunity,” said Mason.

The women’s soccer team games can be viewed remotely on the CPP Athletics app and the CCAA Network livestream. Home games can be attended in-person at Kellogg Stadium under the university’s COVID-19 preventative guidelines.

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