FULLERTON, Calif. – After spending 110 minutes watching from the sidelines, Cal State Fullerton senior goalkeeper Katie Pulliam entered the match and for the second year in a row helped the Titans advance to the Big West Championship by stopping two Mustang penalty kicks in a shootout (4-3) Thursday night after the two schools battled to a 1-1 draw at Titan Stadium.
Fullerton (8-6-6 overall) will take on third-seeded UC Riverside, a 2-1 overtime winner over No. 2 UC Irvine earlier in the evening, in the league championship match on Sunday (Nov. 10) at 1 p.m. in a contest to be televised on Fox Sports Primeticket from Titan Stadium.
Tickets are available by clicking HERE.
The top-seeded Mustangs finish their season at 11-7-1 overall. The Titans and Highlanders contest on Sunday will be a rematch of the 2005 conference championship game when Fullerton won 4-1 at Titan Stadium.
Senior Lindsey Maricic played brilliantly throughout regulation and two sudden-death periods, making five saves on the night – a number of them coming off her line and challenging Mustang forwards.
Pulliam saved the first attempt by Cal Poly's Megan Abutin, while Kishi Smith buried the first penalty kick to give the Titans a 1-0 lead. The next three shooters for Cal Poly (Sara Lancaster, Elise Krieghoff, Megan Wagner) and Fullerton (Colleen Ortega, Chelsey Patterson, Janali West) successfully converted their attempts. With the Titans leading penalties 4-3, Pulliam blocked Haley Walker's kick to the left post to give Fullerton the victory.
The Mustangs grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the 19th minute after a Kelly Bonner foul in the box allowed Sara Lancaster to place a penalty kick in the upper right corner. Fullerton responded with the equalizer in the 37th on Nikki McCants' second goal of the year, a volley served in from Lauren Stupin, but that would be all the scoring for the final 73 minutes.
Fullerton had a chance to win in the second overtime period, but McCants' shot with five minutes remaining sailed just wide.
Ali White and McCants each finished with three shots to lead the Titans while Krieghoff had four shots on the night to lead the Mustangs. Fullerton held the advantage in shots 15-12 while Cal Poly had a 7-6 lead in corners for the night.
Notes: With the victory, the Titans cut the Big West tournament series over Cal Poly to 2-3-1… Fullerton is now 5-4-3 all-time at Titan Stadium against the Mustangs… the Titans last hosted the Big West Soccer tournament in 2007… Fullerton is now 5-3 in Big West Semifinal contests… earlier this season UC Riverside defeated Cal State Fullerton 1-0 on October 13 at UCR Soccer Stadium in Riverside, Calif…Cal State Fullerton will be playing in its second straight Big West championship match after falling 1-0 in overtime to Cal State Northridge in 2012…In the last Big West tournament meeting between Cal Poly and Cal State Fullerton, the Mustangs and Titans played a 110 minutes of scoreless soccer in the tournament final. Fullerton advanced as Tournament MVP Shayla Sabin denied Whitney Sisler's sixth-round penalty kick attempt and the Titans won their third straight Big West Tournament title and earned the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
Head Coach Demian Brown
Opening Statement on the game...
"A match like this really brings out a ton of emotions and obviously giving up the goal the way that we did especially being a penalty kick to Cal Poly was kind of hard to take, but I am very happy obviously for how the women responded. To get the goal that we did was tremendous and to battle the way that we did through the second half and overtime has become the way that we do things, it is nothing new to us, and we have probably one of the country's best shot blockers in Katie Pulliam. All of us have a tremendous amount of confidence in PK's myself, the staff, and the women we felt that things were going to work out really well for us"
On preparing for No. 1 seed Cal Poly…
"That was easy for us, being able to play here at Titan Stadium is a real special thing and we owe all of that to our 2012 team. We have confidence when we are here playing at home. Playing a No. 1 seed didn't come into consideration for us, it was just another game at home for us"
On the positives of this match…
Outside of the win, and being able to play an extra game longer in our season, again the opportunity to do some positive things here in our stadium, to be able to represent our university and conference in the NCAA tournament those are all the things that we will talk about with the women. Just the privilege and pride that kind of goes behind that and use those as other motivating factors for a good performance on Sunday"
Pulliam on her strategy in PKs…
"It's a little bit of guessing, a little bit of strategy, and being able to read the players as best as you can"
McCants on her mindset coming into the game and her goal…
My mindset was we need a goal. It was a great ball from Lauren Stupin and I got a touch on it and I placed it far post which I am supposed to do, it was good"