San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

SDSU women’s soccer split their pair of home games to open conference

A frustrating first result leads to a gritty win in the second result for the Aztecs
Isabella Biunno
Aztec Women’s Soccer players jump up alongside the Wyoming Cowgirls to block the soccer ball on September 25, 2022.

The SDSU women’s soccer team (3-3-4,1-1 MWC) went 1-1 over the weekend, to open up their Mountain West Conference play. The following are individual recaps of both the Aztecs’ 2-0 loss to the Colorado State Rams and their 2-1 victory over the Wyoming Cowgirls.


SDSU vs. Colorado State


The Aztec women’s soccer team fell to the visiting Colorado State Rams (4-3-3)(1-0-1 MWC) 2-0 on Thursday night, at the SDSU Sports Deck. 

Colorado State opened the scoring in the 21st minute, as Rams senior midfielder Kaitlyn Abrams saw her low cross deflected by two Aztecs defenders and roll into the back of their own net. The Rams doubled their lead nine minutes later, with forward Liv Layton on the receiving end of a long counter-attacking pass and slotting it home past Aztecs junior goalkeeper, Alexa Madueno. 

After the second goal, h Head cCoach Mike Friesen decided to move standout sophomore midfielder Denise Castro from a  more forward position back into the heart of midfield in an attempt to get the Aztecs leading goal scorer more involved. 

“How they (the Rams) were sitting so deep and just turning and running back, it was hard to get (Denise) on the ball. We were trying to find ways to create some numbers in midfield,” Friesen said. 

Just before halftime, Colorado State was awarded a penalty as multiple crosses into the box eventually struck the hand of an Aztec defender. Rams sophomore midfielder Izzy Wildermuth, saw her penalty saved by Madueno, who recently moved into the top 10 for most saves in Aztecs history. 

The second half was a better performance by the Aztecs, as halftime substitutions brought a much needed jolt of energy to Friesen’s side. Junior forward Emma Gaines-Ramos and sophomore forward Julia Gomez brought intensity in the second half along with Castro, but they couldn’t find their way past the Rams’ defense. 

It was a frustrating night for the Aztecs, who found the Rams’ congested midfield too tough to crack. The Aztecs repeatedly tried to run their attack through Castro, but the Rams’ advantage in the middle of the pitch made life hard on her and the rest of the team.

The plan coming into the game was to focus the attack on the wings, particularly through Gaines-Ramos and sophomore fullback Trinity Coker. 

“We knew that they were going to play a 3-6-1, (formation with three defenders, six midfielders and one forward) and the entire middle of the field was packed. They weren’t going to go forward… and our discussion all week was to not do silly things to give goals away, which we did. It makes it really difficult, as they had the lead and they could just sit back (on defense),” Friesen said. 

The Aztecs pushing attackers up the field left them vulnerable in counter attacking situations, as one long pass from deep in the Rams territory allowed Leyton to score the second of the game. 

For a team that came out with lots of energy and determination in a loss to No. 1 UCLA last week in Westwood, it was deflating for Friesen to see the Aztecs not have that same energy against a team that on paper was considered a much easier matchup. 

“I was highly disappointed with our performance today. Our discussion was to be highly energetic, enthusiastic and dominant in the early stages and I thought we were the exact opposite,” Friesen said. “We didn’t come out with the mentality that we needed to, and they did a good job and had a really good gameplan.” 

It’s a surprising loss to a Colorado State team that has never beaten the Aztecs in the Mike Friesen era. Considering the nature of the goals that the Rams scored and the Aztecs superiority in the second half, it doesn’t look as if this loss is any more than an outlier of a poor performance for Friesen’s squad. 

“We overlooked it, thinking we could just show up. This game is too difficult to not show up and give your best and if you don’t give your best you’re gonna get beat by anybody.” 


SDSU vs. Wyoming 


“Gritty teams have the ability to have adversity, but still dig in and do the work” emphasized head coach Mike Friesen. Grit, to him and his team, has been the defining word of the season.

Be it in the devastating dribbles of forward Emma Gaines-Ramos or the crunching tackles of Kiera Utush, there is plenty of grit on this Aztecs side. Sunday’s 2-1 win over Wyoming was another example of a gritty team getting the job done. In the midst of a tough run of results, this was a desperately needed victory.

From the opening whistle, the Aztecs knew they could grab control of  the game. Junior Gaines-Ramos was taking on her defender at every opportunity. Dancing her way through the Wyoming backline, she was able to get the team’s best chances in the beginning.

The Aztecs’ domination continued as sophomore Hope Paredes controlled the midfield and sprang forth counter attacks. Fullback sophomore Trinity Coker was everywhere, giving the front three even more freedom.

All this pressure eventually resulted in Gaines-Ramos burying the opener after a great through ball from senior Rachelle Elve. Utush noted that “the winger on Emma’s side couldn’t match up with her.” The Aztecs didn’t give the Cowgirls any breathing room after the goal.

Junior Forward Emma Gaines-Ramos follows the ball across the SDSU soccer field in order to support her team in getting a goal against the Wyoming Cowgirls on Saturday, September 25, 2022 at the Sports Deck. (Isabella Biunno)

Wyoming eventually fought their way back into the game with some decent chances at the end of the first half. Junior Alexa Madueno had a great game in between the posts and kept the Cowgirls at bay.

For the majority of the first half, coach Friesen had his team attack the Wyoming defense to a good deal of success. “We wanted to utilize the players that we have to get behind them to get service in,” Friesen said. This strategy awakened the front three and created nightmares for the Cowgirls.

The first half was a flex of the Aztecs’ bright offense and tough defense, but the opening of the second half was a total regression. The Cowgirls came out of halftime with a desire to get the equalizer, pressuring the Aztecs into mistakes.

Wyoming headed home their equalizer, stunning the Aztecs. However, this was the turning point of the game, as the Aztecs were determined to get the winner. Captain Utush knew, “We were better than them and were hungry for the winner.”

Every player was getting involved in the offense from the center backs to the wingers, as they pushed for that desperately needed go-ahead goal. As the clock ticked closer to full time, Utush would volley home the winner, bouncing off the post and crossing past the goal line. In that moment, fans could see the grit of a side that refuses to yield to opponents.

While the Aztecs were able to walk away with a win, they didn’t come out unscathed. Coker was helped off the field after a tough challenge in the last minutes of the game.

Coach Friesen has constantly mentioned that his team is gritty and has stood tall in the face of adversity from a crushing schedule.He mentioned that this grit is ingrained inside of the sports program at SDSU.

This game may serve as a springboard for a gritty Aztecs squad that wants to turn their season around. The Aztecs will travel to Colorado to face Colorado College on Thursday, Sept. 29 and continue their road trip Sunday, Oct. 2 at Air Force.

About the Contributor
Isabella Biunno
Isabella Biunno, '24-25 Managing Editor, '23-24 Photo Editor
Isabella Biunno (she/her/hers) is a photographer for The Daily Aztec. She is originally from Las Vegas, Nevada where she was a part of yearbook and publications for nearly six years. She is a first-year Psychology major with an emphasis in neuroscience, and she plans to go to graduate school for Occupational Therapy. She loves photography, editing, and creating, and she can’t wait to continue shooting content for the DA. One thing she is passionate about outside of photojournalism is being involved in the disability/Autism community. She is a part of SDSU’s Adapted Athletics club, and she worked as an Instructor at a company back home called Inclusion Fusion where she was able to work with people with disabilities. Although her career-related passions fall in the healthcare field, she enjoys taking pictures and covering photo events just as much. She looks forward to expanding her experience as a photographer as well as capturing some astounding shots this year.
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
SDSU women’s soccer split their pair of home games to open conference