SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Following a pair of exhibition matches, including a home win over the Sacramento Storm, the Sacramento State women's soccer team will open its regular season slate at 5 p.m. Friday in a Causeway Cup matchup at UC Davis.
"Keeping possession and making sure we have strong runs will be key for us," said redshirt freshman defender Alexa Heinzer, who started both exhibition games on the Hornet back line. "I'm really excited to start my career there. I know a lot of the girls on the team so it would be exciting to get a win.
The Hornets exhibited some strong play on Sunday in their 2-0 exhibition win over the Storm, a pro team that plays in the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL). The squad scored in the final minutes of each half, with senior Jordyn Rolling finding the net in the 41st minute and sophomore Kassidy Kellogg connecting off a corner kick in the 87th minute. Strong defensive play and four combined saves between goaltenders Kimberly Mata and Hannah Gendron ensured the clean sheet.
Now comes the regular season and nine non-conference matchups before the Big Sky season kicks off on Sept. 27. Picked to finish seventh by the Big Sky coaches in the preseason poll, Sacramento State is looking to prove its doubters wrong and use the early part of its season to ensure it is in top form when conference play comes about.
"Coming out with a hard competition and being rivals will be a nice way to start," Heinzer said. "For a young team we all get together really well and have a really strong group. We're very positive and confident about how we're going to end up this season."
Heinzer is one of 11 players on the 2013 Hornet roster that has not previously seen regular season game action for the team. The squad also has 15 returning letter winners including five returning starters and four all-Big Sky performers.
Opening against their Causeway foe will give the Hornets an exciting first test. The Aggies were picked eighth out of nine teams in the Big West conference preseason coaches' poll after an 8-9-2 overall record and 3-5-1 conference mark a year ago. The squad was 5-3-1 at home in 2012, however, including a 4-1-0 record in home non-conference games, and earned a 1-0 exhibition win over Oregon in Davis last weekend.
Senior midfielder Ashley Edwards, one of 10 returning starters for the Aggies, led the team with seven goals and 16 points last year and is a Preseason Big West all-conference team selection in 2013. The Aggies and Hornets played to a 0-0 draw last year and Sacramento State has a 0-4-2 record against UC Davis since the last Hornet win in the annual rivalry in 2006.
Friday will also be the first Causeway Cup battle of 2013 between the two rivals. UC Davis and Sacramento State have 17 common athletics teams, and Friday's match winner will earn five points for their respective school. In the event of a tie, as was the case last season, each school would earn 2.5 points.
Fans making the short trip across the causeway to attend Friday's match can find ticket information HERE.