SDSU women’s soccer holds off crosstown rival USD in wild finish

by Brandon Truffa, Staff Writer

The San Diego State Sports Deck bleachers were packed and cluttered with red and blue for the crosstown showdown Thursday night between the SDSU Aztecs (4-2-0) and University of San Diego Toreros (1-6-1).

For fans of either side, this year’s matchup between the two San Diego rivals did not disappoint as SDSU held off a late charge from USD to win 4-3.

Aztecs head coach Mike Friesen thought the crowd was electric during the match.

“It was great for San Diego,” Friesen said. “Obviously I don’t like the game to be that close, but for the fans that was probably pretty excited.”

Both teams were held scoreless in a defensively dominated first half in which the Aztecs outshot USD 5-2.

The fans were looking forward to some offense from both sides after a halftime show consisting of bubble soccer and the popular Village People song “YMCA,” which everyone in the stands, including some players from the Aztecs, sang.

Offense is certainly what they got, as seven goals were scored between the two teams.

The Aztecs struck first in the 49th minute, when junior forward Hedda Regefalk put one into the back of the net from four yards out off a cross from sophomore forward Aliyah Utush.

Four minutes later, Utush picked up her second assist of the night when she set up freshman forward Leah Pruitt to put SDSU up 2-0 on USD.

Pruitt got on the scoresheet once again in the 59th minute, when she slipped past almost the entire Torero back line and made it 3-0 SDSU.

USD got one back in the 61st minute courtesy of junior forward Victoria Walker. However, in the 63rd minute, Aztecs freshman midfielder Milan Moses quickly responded to make it a three-goal lead once again.

With a 4-1 lead, it looked as if the Aztecs had the game in the bag. But the Toreros wouldn’t go quietly into the night.

USD goals from junior defenders Caitlyn Kretzschmar and Jacqueline Altschuld in the 82nd and 86th minutes cut the Torero deficit to one and put the fans on the edge of their seats for a wild finish.

Luckily for the Aztecs, the last ditch scramble from its crosstown foes was too little too late, and SDSU was able to hold on for the 4-3 victory.

“We made a lot of personnel changes late in the game to try and get some minutes for some kids who haven’t had very many minutes, and save our legs for Sunday’s game,” Friesen said. “I think we just made too many changes.”

But Friesen was able to take away some positive outlook from the near-disaster finish.

“That created a little bit of a panic in us,” Friesen said. “Which is probably good for this group to get a little reality check there.”

The story of the night was the breakout performance of Pruitt, who tallied two goals on two shots.

Following the match, Pruitt attributed her performance to the success and help from her teammates and coaches.

“I finally played better with my team around me,” Pruitt said. “Playing two touches and getting the ball back, what the coaches have been teaching me, I finally got the point of it.”

Friesen was impressed, as well.

“Pretty big-time, in terms of not only scoring goals, but creating goals,” Friesen said. “(Her performance) is probably going to be a springboard for her for the rest of the year and her career. We knew she was capable of that, and this is just kind of that breakout game for her.”

Thursday night was one of SDSU’s two non-conference game left before it begins its trek through Mountain West opponents beginning next Friday.

Looking ahead, Friesen is confident on where his team is at heading into the most important stretch of the season.

“I think we’re in a good spot, we’re healthy, and playing well. We’ve got to clean a few things up on the defensive end, but other than that I’m pleased on where we’re at,” he said.