SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Sacramento State women's soccer team (4-4-1) opens Big Sky Conference play at home this weekend, hosting North Dakota (1-8-1) at 4 p.m. Friday and Northern Colorado (4-3-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday
The Hornets will play five of their nine conference matches at home this season, and the team realizes the importance of earning points on its home field to open Big Sky competition.
"Every year it ends up coming down to one or two points to see who's in or not in (the Big Sky Tournament), so every point matters, every game is huge, and we can't take anything for granted on our home field," Sacramento State head coach Randy Dedini said. "It's very important to win all of your home games in conference and hopefully steal a few on the road. That's the formula to get in the playoffs, so we have to defend our home turf."
Sacramento State was picked to finish seventh out of 10 teams in the preseason Big Sky Coaches' poll, but the Hornets enter conference play tied for the Big Sky lead with four wins this season. The squad closed the non-conference portion of its schedule with a win and a tie last weekend and has gone 3-1-1 over its last five matches. The Hornets are also 2-1-1 this season on their home field, with their only loss coming in overtime.
"I think non-conference prepared us well, and especially with last weekend I feel like we're coming off good competition and good results," said junior Kassi Anast, who has started every match at central defender and has played all but 10 minutes this season. "Our goal is to not lose any conference games at home, and I'm really excited to start conference here. I think we'll have a good crowd and get good results."
The Hornets have allowed only three goals in four home matches this season with a 0.69 goals against average. The squad has a 51-35 shot advantage on Hornet Field and has outscored its opposition 3-1 in the second half of its home contests.
Sacrament State enters conference play tied for fourth in the league with 11 goals and second in the Big Sky with 12 assists. On the defensive end the Hornets rank second in the conference with 62 saves with junior goalkeeper Kimberly Mata second with an .812 save percentage. Sophomore Alyssa Anderson, the reigning Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week, leads the league with six goals and three game winning goals and is tied for the conference lead with 13 points.
North Dakota, which was unanimously picked to finish last in the conference in the preseason coaches' poll, enters Big Sky play at 1-8-1 with its only win coming over North Dakota State. The team has been outscored 34-9 this season and has been shut out five times. Junior goalkeeper Kristi Hestdalen does lead the conference with 69 saves but has a league-worst 3.33 goals against average. Sacramento State defeated North Dakota 1-0 last season in Grand Forks in the first ever meeting between the teams.
Northern Colorado is undefeated in its last five matches while allowing just one goal to move its season record to 4-3-2. The Bears lead the Big Sky with five shutouts this season and have gone 2-1-0 in road matches. Senior goalkeeper Natalie D'Adamio, the 2012 Big Sky Goalkeeper of the Year, leads the league with an .831 save percentage and is second with 54 saves. The Hornets are 5-1-2 all time vs. the Bears but lost, 2-0, in Greeley last season.
The match against North Dakota comes on Aloha Friday. Wear your favorite Hawai'ian shirt to the game and at halftime Makamae Melia O Polynesia, a hula halau, will perform a traditional Kahiko hula and Tahitian performance.