Pulliam Stops Irvine in Penalties as Fullerton Advances

VIDEO: Penalty Kick Finish at Anteater Stadium

VIDEO: Postgame With Head Coach Demian Brown

VIDEO: Postgame With Goalkeeper Katie Pulliam

IRVINE, Calif. -- After spending 110 minutes watching from the sidelines, Cal State Fullerton junior goalkeeper Katie Pulliam made, perhaps, the three biggest saves of her career against host UC Irvine, summoned from the bench and stopping all three Anteater penalty kicks in a shootout Thursday night to advance the Titans to the Big West Championship after the two schools battled to a 1-1 draw at Anteater Stadium.

Fullerton (10-8-1 overall) will take on second-seeded Cal State Northridge, a 1-0 winner over No. 3 Cal Poly earlier in the evening, in the league championship match on Sunday (Nov. 4) at 1 p.m. in a match to be televised on Fox Sports PrimeTicket. Fourth-seeded UC Irvine finishes its season at 9-8-4 overall.

Junior Lindsey Maricic played brilliantly through regulation and two sudden-death overtime periods, making six saves on the night -- a number of them coming off her line and challenging attacking Anteater forwards at the top of the box.

With the match on the line, Pulliam saved the first two Irvine attempts at the left post while junior Kishi Smith, who also didn't enter during the run of play in either regulation nor overtime, and Chelsey Patterson gave the Titans a 2-0 lead. After Pulliam made it a perfect 3-for-3 with a stop against Devon Delarosa, senior Stacey Fox put the match away for Fullerton with a shot to the right post.

The Titans seized an early lead in only the third minute of the match when Patterson rocketed home a shot to the upper right corner for her first of the year and a 1-0 lead. Irvine responded with the equalizer in the 32nd minute on Laura McGrail's sixth of the year to bring the Anteaters level, but that would be all the scoring for the final 78 minutes.

Maricic challenged numerous balls at the top of the box, making saves on shots by McGrail and Rachel Wood early in the first period and another on a shot by Delarosa in the 24th minute before Irvine drew even.

The Anteaters appeared to go ahead in the 54th minute when a rocket from Mar Rodriguez rippled the top of the net, but deflected down off the crossbar and away from danger. Jenna Pellegrino then had another chance to end it in regulation, but Maricic skied to tip her shot over the bar with eight minutes remaining to preserve the tie.

Fullerton had the first chance to be "golden" in the first overtime period, but Ann Marie Tangorra's volley with just under two minutes remaining sailed just wide. McGrail then had another chance for Irvine in the 109th minute turned away to send it to a shootout.

Tangorra and Rebecca Wilson each finished with two shots to lead the Titans while McGrail had four shots on the night to lead the Anteaters to a 12-9 advantage in the category while UCI also held a 9-6 lead in corners for the night.