The transition from high school to college can be tough for any freshmen, but when Division I collegiate athletics are involved, it can be even more difficult.
So when the San Diego State women’s soccer team welcomed 10 freshmen this year, they knew it may take some time for them to get adjusted and there might be a few growing pains. However, no one expected the first-years to develop so quickly.
“I thought the freshmen stepped up big time,” head coach Mike Friesen said. “So did the whole team, but the freshmen really matured over the weekend and I thought that was a big help for us.”
The all-around team effort proved to be a big difference-maker for SDSU (2-1-0) as it defeated Arizona State (1-1-1) by a score of 2-1 at the SDSU Sports Deck on Sunday.
Sophomore midfielder Cat Walker was one of many who played a key role for the offense, as she was able to give the Aztecs the lead on an unassisted goal in the 14th minute.
From there, SDSU’s defense was able to keep the Sun Devils off the scoreboard for the rest of the half, but Arizona State tied the game up in the second half on a goal by Karin Volpe.
After Volpe’s score, the game became a defensive battle, with each team struggling to find the back of the net.
The offensive ineptitude came in spite of exceptional play by senior forward Alicia Piz, who’s opportunistic shot in the 51st minute came up short after a fingertip catch by Sun Devil goalkeeper Katie Cochran.
But the Aztec’s young talent shined as the offense finally found the back of the net. Freshman forward Taylor Canatsey headed the game-winner off a corner kick from Walker to defeat Arizona State.
“It’s a great start to her career,” Friesen said. “And we’re expecting a lot of great things from (Canatsey).”
On Friday, SDSU seemed to be in a similar defensive battle against a physical Cal Poly team at Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
The Aztecs were able to control the ball throughout, thanks in part to junior forward Jessica Gordon, who paced the Aztec offense with three shot attempts and scored the game-winner in the 26th minute to defeat the Mustangs 1-0.
Goalkeeper Aubree Southwick also played a significant role for SDSU, as the sophomore had six saves to record her first shutout of the season.
The win was not only huge for the Aztecs, but also proved to play a role in the team’s overall development.
“I think this weekend, in general, our team matured leaps and bounds,” Friesen said. “I think one of the things we’ve been missing is a work rate and physicality, and that came together this weekend.”