SDSU women’s soccer looks to make it a 4-peat in the Mountain West

by Brandon Truffa, Staff Writer

After kicking off conference play last weekend, the San Diego State women’s soccer team is heading home to continue its climb through the Mountain West.

The Aztecs dropped their conference opener 2-1 to Boise State Friday, but came away with a 2-0 win against Utah State on Sunday.

The lone SDSU goal against BSU came off the foot of freshman utility player Milan Moses in the 86th minute. The goal was Moses’s third of the season, and she is currently in a three-way tie with fellow freshman forward Leah Pruitt and sophomore forward Aliyah Utush for the team lead.

Pruitt and junior forward Morgan Darling both scored a goal apiece in the win against Utah State, and senior goalkeeper Melanie Vaughn stopped five shots en route to her third shutout of the season.

For the first time in two weeks, the Aztecs will head home to play in front of its home crowd where they will host MW opponents UNLV (5-6-0, 0-2-0), and University of Nevada (3-5-2, 0-1-1).

UNLV opened its conference play at home over the weekend, losing 2-0 to Air Force on Friday and 2-1 to Colorado College on Sunday.

The Rebels are led by senior forward Jodi Barber, whose four goals and nine points lead her team.

Nevada began their conference play at home, as well. The Wolfpack fell 2-0 to Colorado College on Friday and faced Air Force on Sunday afternoon in a game that ended in a 2-2 draw after double overtime.

UNR’s leading scorer, senior midfielder Lindsey Salcido, is responsible for three of the team’s nine goals on the year.

The Aztecs have had massive success within the MW over the last three seasons, claiming three straight conference titles.

But don’t tell head coach Mike Friesen they are the “defending champs.”

“We’re not defending anything. Nobody comes in and takes the trophy we already have,” Friesen said. “This is a new year, new team, and it’s going to be a new experience. It’s going to be critical for us to focus one game at a time.”

Whether they consider themselves defending champions or not, the Aztecs are not blind to realize that every team in the conference will be looking to get after them when they get their chance.

“Obviously we have a target on our back,” junior midfielder Victoria Barba said.

Friesen said his squad will get the best out of every opponent within the conference.

“We are the ‘team to beat,’ so we know we’re going to get everyone’s best shot,” he said.

The Aztecs were battle-tested earlier this season through their difficult nonconference schedule, which included a win over No. 17 University of Kentucky.

“It showed us how we need to be more mentally tough,” Barba said. “It really showed us how good of a team we actually are.”

Of the 11 remaining games, SDSU will play six of them on the road. The Aztecs aren’t strangers to playing away from the cozy confines of the Mesa this year, though.

The variety of environments this team has played in this season has prepared it well for the tests on the road ahead.

“We’ve flown all over the country. We’ve been exhausted. We’ve played in 108, 102 (degrees). Extreme temperatures, good field, bad field … We’ve kind of seen almost everything,” Friesen said. “I think we’re ready to take on all of the challenges the MW has.”