SDSU women’s soccer loses heartbreaking penalty shootout to San Jose State in MW Tourney final

by Brandon Truffa, Staff Writer

Heartbreaking.

That’s the only word that comes to mind when thinking about San Diego State women’s soccer’s penalty shootout loss to San Jose State in the Mountain West Tournament championship game Saturday night.

The No. 1-seeded Aztecs were chasing their fourth straight tournament title. They had already sealed up the MW regular-season title for the fourth straight season, and were looking to sweep this season, as well.

But, unfortunately, some things just aren’t meant to be. And this bee stung.

The Aztecs held a 1-0 lead for almost the entire match.

Freshman forward Milan Moses put the Aztecs on the board nine minutes in with a fantastic finish from junior midfielder Victoria Barba’s free kick.

For the remainder of the game, the Aztecs’ defense held its own, preventing SJSU freshman forward phenom Darriell Franklin, who notched eight goals on the season, from breaking through the backline.

For 89 minutes the cards were falling in SDSU’s favor. The final minute, however, dealt the Aztecs a bust in blackjack.

With 45 seconds remaining in regulation, Spartan freshman forward Darriell Franklin converted a penalty kick after a controversial foul against the Aztecs in the box.

The game then went to sudden-death overtime, which saw neither team find the back of the net to end the match.

Penalty kicks came down as the deciding factor in this match. Unfortunately for the Aztecs, they ran into a wall. Literally.

Freshman goalkeeper Paige Simonaeu, who was eventually named the MW Player of the Tournament, faced four Aztecs in the shootout. Only two were able to convert.

Simonaeu stopped SDSU sophomore defender Stacie Moran’s shot, and junior forward Hedda Regefalk’s attempt rang off the post.

On the other side, the Spartans were able to slip every attempt past SDSU senior keeper Melanie Vaughn, and the fourth and final conversion, from none other than Franklin herself, spoiled the Aztecs’ shot at an eighth consecutive trophy handoff.

The loss (technically a draw or tie) prevents the Aztecs from receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

In fact, a team which finished the year with a 10-game winning streak, won 11 of its last 12, went 10-1 in its conference, and had nine players on the All-MW teams might not even make the NCAA tourney at all.

“It makes it really difficult to play in a conference like (the MW), because you actually have to be absolutely perfect to be able to make the NCAA tournament,” SDSU head coach Mike Friesen said.

Monday’s selection show will decide the fate for the Aztecs. For now, their Rating Percentage Index, or RPI, will be the main deciding factor in if the Aztecs will play another game in 2015.

Aside from all of the heartbreak, the Aztecs have a lot to be proud of.

Barba, who assisted Moses’ goal, and had a shot laser off the crossbar in the 36th minute of Saturday’s game, was at a loss for words in describing how proud she was of the team’s accomplishments this year.

“Words can’t describe it,” Barba said. “We’re a pretty young team. We lost most of our starters last year who were seniors, and coming out with new freshmen just taking their spots, really clicking right away from summer all the way until now. It was unbelievable.”

A teary-eyed Barba was devastated by the loss, but feels it will drive her going into next season.

“I just want to get another one, and show that we were the better team. For sure.” Barba said.

The Aztecs will unfortunately be without Vaughn, a graduating senior, who might have played her final game as an Aztec Saturday night.

In fact, she might have played her final game of her soccer career, as she will look to move on to her desired career in environmental studies.

“I really want to move back to Los Angeles,” Vaughn said. “My dream job would be something that involves keeping the trash out of the ocean, so I can help people, as well as inadvertently help animals.”

At the end of the day, Friesen believes there is so much to take from, and be proud of, in this season, and SDSU’s last four years of dominance in the MW.

“This is an unbelievable group of young women, that have played an amazing season, and of course you start to look at the history of what they’ve done the last four years. I couldn’t have dreamed of how many games we’ve won with this team.” Friesen said.

“It’s pretty special.”

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