Aztec women’s soccer won’t settle for just a conference title

by Brandon Truffa, Staff Writer

There’s an old idiom that goes, “Two is company, three’s a crowd.”

But what is four?

For the San Diego State women’s soccer team (13-4, 9-1 Mountain West), four is history.

After a weekend trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado, in which they defeated Air Force Academy Friday night and Colorado College Sunday afternoon, the Aztecs made history by capturing their fourth straight Mountain West conference regular season title.

The impressive feat had never been accomplished by any team in any sport in the conference’s sixteen-year existence.

“It just kind of legitimizes kind of what we feel. It’s just really hard to win once, let alone four in a row,” SDSU Head Coach Mike Friesen said. “That’s one of the things we’re most proud of.”

Friesen admitted that neither him, nor the team knew about the milestone until after Sunday’s clinching performance.

In addition to the team’s accomplishment, sophomore forward Angela Mitchell was named the MW Offensive Player of the Week. Mitchell scored two goals in Sunday’s win, and became the second Aztec in a row to be recognized with the honor, after freshman forward Leah Pruitt won it last week.

Consistency has been the key formula in the Aztecs’ domination within the conference over the past four seasons.

Friesen said much of the program’s success derives from keeping a core together and finding balance with talent and class.

“One of the keys I think to our success, is that our classes are all pretty even. That’s one of the things I tried to do when I first took over, is figure out how can we make it to where every year we have some continuity,” Friesen said.

Not counting redshirts, the Aztecs have five freshman, seven sophomores, seven juniors and four seniors on the current roster.

Balancing the classes eases the recruitment process.

“It helps in the recruiting process as well to bring in the new group, where you don’t have 12 or 15 new players coming in, we have five or six new players coming in,” Friesen said. “That helps with some consistency in terms of who’s on the field.”

Technical components aside, building a winning mentality and culture assists in encouraging players to be a part of the program.

“We have to create a culture that kids wanted to be in this program, and create a culture that has a team-first mentality,” Friesen said.

For now, at least, the celebration for the Aztecs is on hold. They aren’t finished with the job at hand.

Not even close.

Riding a nine-game winning streak in which they’ve outscored opponents 22-4, SDSU still needs to travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for their regular season finale against University of New Mexico this weekend.

From the outside looking in, this game serves as a great opportunity for the Aztecs to rest some players before they host the MW tournament next week, right?

“Well, no,” Friesen said with a laugh.

“We need to win this game to increase our RPI again, so that if we happen to not win the conference tournament, we still have a chance to get into the NCAA (tournament),” Friesen said.

The Lobos will not be an easy task for SDSU. New Mexico needs a win in order to lock up the second seed in the conference tournament, which would give the Lobos a first-round bye.

With a 7-2-1 conference record, the Lobos are an experienced squad like SDSU.

“They have, I think, six seniors that start on their team, so they have a very experienced team as well,” Friesen said, “Actually, probably more experienced then we are, because we only have a couple seniors that start.”

Although the regular season title is wrapped up, the Aztecs are far from accomplishing the goals they set earlier on in the season.

“Our mindset is we want to win this game, and we want to win the conference tournament to have the potential to play a home game in the first round of the NCAA tournament.” Friesen said.

“We have much bigger aspirations than just this conference.”