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HISTORIC SEASON ENDS TOO SOON AS WOMEN’S SOCCER FALLS IN BIG SKY SEMIFINALS, 2-1, IN DOUBLE OVERTIME

Photo: Woody Meyer, Big Sky Conference
Photo: Woody Meyer, Big Sky Conference

GRELEY, Colo. – The #2 Sacramento State Hornets brought a conference-record 17 match unbeaten streak into Friday's Big Sky tournament semifinal match against #3 Eastern Washington, but saw that streak end in a heartbreaking 2-1 loss in double overtime.

The loss ends not only the team's historic unbeaten streak, but also its season. Eastern Washington will advance to the Big Sky tournament championship match to face either #1 Montana or #4 Northern Colorado.

Sacramento State finished the year with an 11-2-6 overall record and a 5-0-4 conference mark. The Hornets were one win shy of matching the program's single-winningest season (12-4-5, 2007).

After starting the regular season with a road loss on Aug. 23, Sacramento State went 17 matches over 77 days without another loss. The 17-match unbeaten streak shattered the previous program record of nine and eclipsed the Big Sky conference record of 16 (Portland State, 2013-14) by one.

Sacramento State closed out the streak with back-to-back home wins over Idaho and Eastern Washington to clinch the number two seed in the tournament and a first round bye.

Unfortunately, Friday's rematch between the Hornets and Eagles went in Eastern Washington's favor, although the Eagles needed 101 minutes to do it.

Sacramento State scored first, thanks to a 40th-minute goal by Erika Munoz. Coming off the bench in the 36th minute, Munoz found the back of the net just three minutes later after a perfect forward pass from Shay Valenzano near midfield.

The goal was the first of the year for Munoz. It was also the first assist of the season for Valenzano.

Despite taking a 1-0 lead into the half, Sacramento State was unable to quiet the Eastern Washington attack. The Eagles found the equalizer in the 61st minute, converting on a corner kick.

Set pieces have been the one weakness in the otherwise oppressive Sacramento State defense all season. Entering Friday's match, nine of 12 goals scored against the Hornets this year had come on restarts (corner kicks, free kicks) or penalty kicks.

It was another corner kick, this time just minutes into the second overtime period, the proved the difference in Friday's semifinal match. Despite a crowd of Hornets covering the front of the goal, the Eagles were able to play a deflection cleanly into the net for the game-winner.

The overtime match was the eighth of the year for Sacramento State. They finished 1-1-6 in those contests.

In total, Eastern Washington piled up 19 total shots (11 in the second half), placing nine of them on goal. The Hornets were less prolific, taking just four shots, but were more efficient, placing three on frame.

Aaliyah Fesili made seven saves in the effort, one shy of her career-high, including a number of second half saves that kept the match tied. 

In addition to Munoz, midfielder Samantha Craig added two shots (one on goal) while Camila Fonseca added the fourth, also on goal.

Friday's game was the last of the season but also the last for a number of instrumental Hornets. Seniors Mia Wilson, Camila Fonseca, Bonnie Ford, Mikayla Reed, and Kaylyn Evans all saw their last action as a Hornet on Friday.

Although the team is losing five seniors, much of the roster - which includes 19 juniors - is expected to return in 2020. With the core of the roster intact, Sacramento State will look to return to the postseason in the Big Sky. 

For Reed, the match closes out a storied career that saw her become the first four-time all-conference selection for Sacramento State since 2007. She was co-newcomer of the year as a freshman, a two-time second team selection, and a first-team selection and co-defensive player of the year during her senior campaign. She ranks second in program history in total minutes (6,765) and fourth in matches started (73).