SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Sacramento State women's soccer team (6-5-2, 2-1-1 Big Sky) reaches the half way point of conference play this week and will host Northern Arizona (6-3-3, 2-1-0 Big Sky) at 4 p.m. Friday and Southern Utah (4-8-0, 1-2-0 Big Sky) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Hornet Field.
Friday's match will be a Pink Game for breast cancer awareness as well as a Green Army game, while Sunday will be the team's "Senior Celebration" as five Hornet seniors will be honored prior to the match.
The Hornets are 3-1-2 on their home field this season and have allowed just three goals in six home matches. The squad had a pair of shutouts in its first Big Sky home matches two weeks ago and is looking for more home success in two crucial conference matches this week.
"This weekend is really critical, and with Sunday being our senior game we want to make sure we get both the wins for the seniors," said redshirt freshman Ashley Cella, who scored her first career goal last Friday at Montana. "We're confident that we can protect our home field. We love playing here and we know what we're capable of."
Sacramento State scored an impressive 3-0 whitewash of Montana on the road last Friday before a disappointing 2-1 overtime loss at Eastern Washington on Sunday.
"We learned that we need to play 100% for every minute of every game and take advantage of opportunities," said Cella regarding the Eastern Washington match. "We need to be more consistent in the way that we play and I know that we can."
The Hornets play three of their final five conference matches at home, but the level of competition will rise dramatically over the next five games. The team is currently tied for third place in the conference with its 2-1-1 Big Sky mark, but the squad has yet to play Portland State (first place), Weber State (second place), Idaho State (tied for third place), and Northern Arizona (fifth place).
The defense has spurred the team's dominance at home, as the Hornets have four shutouts in six home dates. The team has been particularly impressive in the first half of home matches, having allowed only one first-half goal and only 12 shots on goal. The Hornets have also outshot their opposition 85-48 overall on Hornet Field this season.
In five home matches played junior goalie Kimberly Mata has allowed just one goal in 480 minutes played with 23 saves, posting a 0.19 goals against average and a .958 save percentage. For the season Mata ranks 34th in the NCAA with a .853 save percentage and is 39th in the country with 64 saves. Entering the week Mata's 1.01 goals against average is the fourth best GAA in a season in program history.
Northern Arizona was unbeaten through its first seven matches this season with a 4-0-3 record but has gone 2-3-0 since then. The team ranks third in the Big Sky with a 1.08 goals against average and is fourth with 17 goals. The Lumberjacks have Big Sky wins over Southern Utah and Idaho State but lost their last match to Weber State. The Hornets are 7-10-2 all-time against NAU but are unbeaten over the last three meetings between the schools.
Sacramento State faced Southern Utah for the first time last season, after the Thunderbirds joined the Big Sky, and scored a 3-1 win. The T-Birds have played their last five matches at home including their first three conference games, dropping matches to Northern Arizona and Idaho State but scoring a 2-1 win over Weber State. The team, which is 0-3-0 on the road this season, ranks second in the Big Sky with 18 goals scored and has had 13 different players tally a goal, with none scoring more than twice.