By Jonathan Santiago, Oct. 25, 2022
Cal Poly Pomona’s women’s soccer team secured a crucial three points against the Cal State East Bay Pioneers, prevailing 2-0 in the third to last game of their season.
CPP pressed relentlessly from the jump, forcing the Pioneers to deal with insurmountable pressure.
Head coach Jay Mason detailed the team’s tactics that earned them the victory.
“We felt like we could cause some turnovers a little higher up the field and exploit some of the spaces when they were in their expansive shape,” said Mason. “It takes every line, takes our forwards, our mids, our back three to be coordinated and connected to ensure that the press is effective.”
The first 10 minutes were played in the Pioneers’ half with the Broncos holding possession. Although the Broncos were solid in the opening minutes of the match, they fell victim to a dangerous Pioneer counterattack. Pioneer midfielder Mika Sayfurahman hit a first time volley that deflected off the left goal post.
After nearly falling behind, the Broncos continued to hustle and challenge the Pioneer defense. Bronco forward Allyssa Larkin tallied two shots on target in the 12th and 17th minutes of the match, though neither resulted in goals.
The first half was a back-and-forth battle between both sides with each team totaling six shots in the first 45 minutes of the match.
With seven minutes remaining in the half, CPP kicked off a dangerous counterattack that resulted in forward Tara Oper chipping the Pioneer goalkeeper. Oper’s shot sailed just over the crossbar, spelling huge relief for the CSU East Bay defense.
Despite the Broncos holding a majority of possession with three corners and earning seven fouls, the Pioneers withstood their first-half efforts to enter halftime scoreless.
The Pioneers kicked off the second half with relentless pressure of their own, keeping CPP on their heels. Broncos’ goalkeeper Audrey Brown stepped up when it mattered most and made an impactful one-on-one save in the 51st minute.
Brown, who totaled seven saves throughout the match, explained her thoughts as she made the game-defining save.
“I kinda blackout during games, so I don’t even know what was going through my head,” said Brown. “Making that save and showing my team that I have their back gave them the confidence to go forward and score.”
The Broncos took their keeper’s challenge to heart, breaking the deadlock in the 53rd minute. Forward Allyssa Larkin placed the ball into the bottom left of the net, leaving the CSU East Bay keeper no chance.
Larkin expressed the importance of scoring first and putting her team ahead.
“I think it was really important because it gave our team insurance and confidence going forward,” said Larkin. “Once we got that goal, we were able to build off of it and get the next one.”
Having conceded, the home team pushed relentlessly once play resumed in an attempt to get themselves back into the match, but the Broncos’ defense withstood the attacking flurry from the Pioneers.
CPP capitalized on their opponents’ press with a dangerous counterattack that earned them a free kick just outside the 18-yard box in the 61st minute of the match. The dead ball was beautifully struck by midfielder Liberty Ortiz, who left the goalkeeper planted as the ball sailed across goal into the top left corner.
Now up by two, the Broncos did not slow down as they continued hunting for more goals. A third was nearly scored by the Broncos when midfielder Jordyn Scott took a shot from the top of the 18-yard box but was saved by the Pioneer’s goalkeeper.
CPP defense continued to shut down their opponents’ attack as full time approached. Making five saves in the second half, goalkeeper Brown and the defense finished the match with a clean sheet.
With this crucial win late in the year, the Broncos improved to a 6-7-2 record and 16 points on the season.
Head coach Mason expressed the importance of this victory, as CPP hopes to extend their season into the playoffs.
“It’s a huge win. East Bay won our conference [tournament] last year. They are a very good team, and their record does not reflect the level at which they play and compete at,” said Mason. “Some of the results that we have had in the last couple of games put a little more pressure on them [the team] and a little more urgency to get a result and put one in the back of the net.”
With the Broncos performing when it matters most, they will close out the regular season against Cal State L.A. on Oct. 27 at Kellogg Stadium. This match can be livestreamed via the California Collegiate Athletic Association network and Bronco Athletics website.
Feature image courtesy of CPP Athletics
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