SACRAMENTO, Calif. - After a win and a draw on the road to open Big Sky Conference play, Sacramento State (3-4-3, 1-0-1 Big Sky) begins a four game Big Sky homestand hosting Montana (5-4-2, 1-1-0 Big Sky) at 4 p.m. Friday and Eastern Washington (8-1-1, 2-0-0 Big Sky) at noon Sunday at Hornet Field.
Scouting Montana (5-4-2, 1-1-0 Big Sky)
Montana opened conference play at home last week with a 2-0 win over Idaho State and a 4-1 loss against defending regular season league champion Idaho. The Griz opened the year with a 4-1-1 record but are 1-3-1 since. Montana is built on defense, having allowed just 10 goals in 11 games this year while leading the Big Sky with five shutouts. The Griz are also a very physical team and lead the Big Sky and are third in NCAA Div. I with 15 yellow cards (the Hornets have five) while also leading the league with 12.64 fouls per game. Goalkeeper Kailey Norman has a 0.87 goals against average while the team is led offensively with three goals and two assists from Hallie Widner. Montana has the second best goals against average in the Big Sky, trailing only the Hornets. Sacramento State is 7-12-4 all-time against Montana but has won four of the last six meetings.
Scouting Eastern Washington (8-1-1, 2-0-0 Big Sky)
The Eagles lead the Big Sky in almost every offensive category with 22 goals scored in 10 games. Eastern's only loss came against UNLV and the team is 3-0-1 on the road. Last week the Eagles began conference play with a 3-0 win over Idaho State and a 2-1 victory in overtime against Idaho. After going 12-4-3 overall and 6-2-2 in the Big Sky last season Eastern Washington was picked second in the 2016 preseason poll. Sacramento State eliminated EWU from the Big Sky Tournament last season but the Eagles returned all 11 starters, including junior Chloe Williams, who is the all-time points lead in program history and leads the Big Sky with 7 goals and 15 points this year. Additionally, junior Aimie Inthoulay is tied for the lead in all of NCAA Div. I with 9 assists this season. Sacramento State is 10-7-2 all-time against Eastern Washington with a 5-3-2 record at home.
Super Big Sky Start
The Hornets opened the conference season on the road and picked up four points, blanking Southern Utah 2-0 and playing Northern Arizona to a 1-1 draw. The victory at Southern Utah gave Sacramento State a win in its Big Sky season opener for the sixth time in the last eight seasons. With four points the Hornets ended the first week of league play tied for second place in the Big Sky, with four straight home games and five of their last eight conference games of the season to be played at Hornet Field.
The Defense Doesn't Rest
Sacramento State has been the best defensive team in the Big Sky, leading the conference in goals against average (0.82) and leading the league and ranking 25th in NCAA Div. I with a .866 save percentage. The Hornets have allowed just nine goals in 10 games, including just seven goals allowed in regulation time. The Hornets have played at least 90 minutes without allowing a goal in five contests and have allowed only three goals in the first half all season.
Sacramento State has played in six overtime games through 10 contests. The team was in a Big Sky-record four consecutive overtime games and has played in 11 total overtime periods. The Hornets have played approximately 90 minutes of overtime soccer, the equivalent of a whole additional game. The team is averaging 99 minutes played per game this year.
Wall of Destiny
Sophomore goalkeeper Destiny Butcher leads the Big Sky with a 0.82 goals against average and .866 save percentage and ranks second in the Big Sky with 5.80 saves per game. She made a career-high 14 saves against Hawaii, which tied for the second most saves in a game in program history. Butcher's four shutouts (one shared) are tied for the 36th most in Div. I.
Fire on Frame
Sacramento State leads the Big Sky with 7.30 shots on goal per game. The team is also second in the league with 14.7 total shots per game and has placed more shots on goal than their opponent in five games.
The Hornets have three ties this season after they went 50 consecutive games, spanning parts of four seasons, without a tie before their first draw of 2016 on Sept. 2 against UC Davis. Last Sunday's stalemate was the first Sacramento State road game to end in a tie in nearly four years, since October 7, 2012, which coincidentally also came at Northern Arizona.
Collins Leading the Way
With three goals, including two game-winning goals, junior Kayla Collins is leading the Hornets in scoring for the second consecutive season. She contributed to both goals in the 2-0 win at Southern Utah, scoring the first just 57 seconds into the game and assisting on the second. In her first season with the Hornets in 2015 Collins led the team with 7 goals and 6 assists for 20 points and was an All-Big Sky second team selection.
Sacramento State has not scored or allowed more than two goals in any game this season. In 10 games, twos have appeared in the final line score just five times and never in the same game.
The Hornets put together a pair of impressive shutout streaks this season. The team opened the season without allowing a goal through its first 194 minutes played, and prior to a score by Nevada on Sept. 9 the Hornets had a 243-minute scoreless streak while recording consecutive shutouts.
Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week
Senior defender Rachel Leonard earned Sacramento State's first Big Sky Player of the Week honor of the 2016 season when she was named Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 6. Leonard helped the Hornets limit UC Davis to just five shots on goal in a 0-0 draw in double overtime between the Causeway rivals. She played all 110 minutes anchoring the Hornet back line, which allowed only three shots on goal in regulation time. She was also one of just four nominees for #NCAASoccer Women's Player of the Week.
Upon the conclusion of the Outrigger Soccer Classic Series in Honolulu defender Rachel Leonard, midfielder Jennifer Lum, and forward Kayla Collins were named to the all-tournament team. Leonard and Lum helped the Hornets allow just two goals in two games, including a shutout of BYU-Hawaii, while Lum also contributed team highs of 12 shots and five shots on goal. Collins scored the game-winning goal against BYU-Hawaii.
Respect Your Elders
The Sacramento State roster features a record 13 seniors and has seven juniors with 43 combined years of experience playing at Sacramento State among those 20 veterans. The Hornets returned all 11 of their primary starters from last season, having lost just one senior to graduation, and the returners scored 28 of the team's 29 total goals last season and recorded 23 of its 24 assists.
Among the 13 Hornet seniors are six players that have been five-year Hornets. Forwards Alyssa Anderson, Josie Jogwe, and Kassidy Kellogg, midfielders Lydia Bowman and Jennifer Lum, and defender McKenna Swanson are all in their fifth season with the program. Bowman and Lum redshirted as true freshmen while the other four had medical redshirt seasons.
Decade of Dedini
Sacramento State head coach Randy Dedini is in his 10th season leading the Hornets. He is the longest tenured and winningest coach in program history in terms of both total wins and winning percentage. He has won two Big Sky titles - the only two in program history - and was named Big Sky Coach of the Year in 2007 and 2010. Just four active Big Sky coaches have been with their programs longer than Dedini.
Big Sky Tournament Rewind
Last season the Hornets qualified for the Big Sky Tournament for the first time since 2010 and beat Eastern Washington, 3-1, in the quarterfinals before falling to Northern Colorado in the semifinals. The win over the Eagles was Sacramento State's fifth straight win in Big Sky Tournament play.