IRVINE, Calif. -- Cal State Northridge's Melissa Fernandez struck a perfectly placed ball to the upper right corner in the second minute of overtime on Sunday afternoon, breaking a scoreless deadlock and lifting the Matadors to a 1-0 victory over Cal State Fullerton and the 2012 Big West Conference Tournament title at Anteater Stadium.
The loss dropped Fullerton to 10-9-1 overall on the season as the Titans were shutout for the first time in 22 matches dating back to a 1-0 loss to the Matadors back on Oct. 20, 2011, and suffered their first loss in a Big West Tournament Championship match after going 2-0-1 in their three previous trips.
Northridge improved to 11-4-6 overall and earned the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament field, which will be announced on Monday.
After a scoreless 90 minutes of regulation, Fernandez finally broke through in the 92nd minute, taking a lead pass from Amanda Smith and outracing a pair of defenders and one of her own teammates to the top of the 18 before unleashing a shot that eluded the hands of the Fullerton keeper before settling into the upper right corner for the game-winner.
It was a devestating loss for the Titans, who had a golden chance to break through in the 54th minute when Summer Chavez was taken down from behind in the box on the right side to set up a penalty kick against two-time Big West Conference Goalkeeper of the Year, Cynthia Jacobo. Senior JeAnne Mazeau stepped to the spot, but her shot clanged off the left post and into the corner to keep the match scoreless.
Fullerton peppered Jacobo and the Northridge defense early and often in the first half, outshooting the Matadors by a 12-3 count in the first 45 minutes, including Chelsey Patterson's attempt just 38 seconds into the match. Northridge's three shots all came in the first 21 minutes, but Lindsey Maricic and the defense was up to the challenge as the Titans' keeper affected all three with the defense clearing one away from an open net.
Chavez had a chance in traffic in the 38th minute go just wide and two chances on the doorstep turned away as a sliding shot by Christina Burkenroad was saved by Jacobo right to a wide-open Nikki McCants who had her one-timer cleared away by a defender. In the second half, senior Ann Marie Tangorra's long run ended just high in the 82nd minute, narrowly missing the upper right corner, setting the stage for overtime.
Tangorra led all Titans with four shots on the afternoon while Fernandez finished with a match-high seven of her own. Fullerton took all seven corner kicks in the match.