WOMEN’S SOCCER OPENS BIG SKY PLAY AT EASTERN WASHINGTON, IDAHO THIS WEEKEND

WOMEN’S SOCCER OPENS BIG SKY PLAY AT EASTERN WASHINGTON, IDAHO THIS WEEKEND

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Coming off an exciting second-half comeback win in CSU Bakersfield, the Sacramento State women's soccer team will head north to take on the Eastern Washington Eagles (6-4-0) as they kick off conference play for the 2017 season. The Hornets will then travel east to Idaho to face the Vandals (4-4-1).

Scouting Eastern Washington (6-4-0, 0-0-0 Big Sky)
Sacramento State will head north to Eastern Washington for the first time since the 2015 season when they fell 3-1. Last season, Sacramento state dropped a 1-0 match to the Eagles at Hornet Stadium. Sandwiched between those two losses, the Hornets defeated EWU 3-1 in the 2015 Big Sky Tournament Quarterfinal match. Sacramento State is 10-8-2 all-time against the Eagles with a 4-4-0 record at Eastern Washington.

Eastern Washington enters Friday's match with a 6-4-0 record, including four wins in their last five contests. Currently second in the Big Sky and the defending 2016 Big Sky champions, EWU was picked first in the preseason poll with eight first-place votes. Through 10 matches this season, EWU is outshooting their opponents 183 to 84.

The Eagles finished the 2016 campaign with a 13-5-4 mark overall and finished fifth in the conference standings with a 5-3-2 record (17 points). 

Watch: BigSkyConf.com
Live stats: EWUstats.com

Scouting Idaho (4-4-1, 0-0-0 Big Sky)
Sacramento State will then travel east to take on the Vandals at Idaho. The Hornets last faced the Vandals in Sacramento in October of 2016, falling 5-1. Sacramento State last played in Idaho in October of 2015, dropping an exciting 1-0 match to the Vandals. All-time, the Hornets are 1-2 against Idaho, their only win coming in 2014, the first time the two teams faced each other.

The University of Idaho is the defending, two-time Big Sky Conference regular-season champion and enters play on Friday with a 4-4-1 record, good for sixth in the conference. Idaho claimed the 2016 regular season championship with 23 points and a 7-1-2 conference record (10-5-4 overall) and the 2015 regular season championship with 28 points (9-0-1 conference record, 14-4-3 overall).  

Idaho was picked to finish fourth in the Big Sky Conference, receiving just one first-place vote.

Watch: BigSkyConf.com
Live stats: Idaho Vandals stats

Conference Kickoff
Sacramento State opens conference play this weekend with matches against Eastern Washington and Idaho. The Hornets have climbed the conference rankings each of the last three seasons, finishing second last year with 20 points and a 6-2-2 record (10-5-4 overall). The Hornets finished sixth in 2015 (15 points, 5-5-0) and ninth in 2014 (12 points, 4-6-0). Sacramento State was picked to finish sixth in conference in this year's Big Sky Coaches Poll. 

Second Half Strong
Sacramento State is outscoring opponents 12-10 through nine games, but are outscoring them 7-3 in the second period. In their last game, a 3-1 win over CSU Bakersfield, the Hornets outshot Bakersfield 11-5 in the second period, scoring three unanswered second-half goals.

Goal Tracker
Forward Kylee Kim-Bustillos has scored five goals through nine games this season. At that pace, she has a chance at cracking the program's top 5 for most goals in a single season. The previous record is 14, set by Katie McCoy in 2007. 11 goals would tie Kim-Bustillos for fifth most with Paula Guarda, set in 1996. Kim-Bustillos has 11 points through nine games, putting her on pace for 23, which would be just outside the top 5 in program single-season history. 

Stay on Target
Senior forward Kayla Collins enters Big Sky play with a .524 shot on goal percentage (11-of-21), second on the squad behind Kylee Kim-Bustillos (5-of-19, .579). Last season, Collins was second in shots (44), SOG% (.444), and points (8).

Persistent Postseason
After a four-year postseason drought (2011-14), Sacramento State has now clinched a Big Sky Tournament spot in back-to-back seasons ('15 and '16). The last time the Hornets made the postseason tournament in three consecutive seasons was 2005 - 2007. This year's squad features 11 returners from last season's postseason team. 

2016 Top Newcomer
Sophomore midfielder Mikayla Reed was named one of the Big Sky's Top Newcomers following her freshman season in 2016. As a freshman, Reed played in all 19 of Sacramento State's games last season, starting 18. She was a co-top newcomer, receiving the award alongside Idaho's Emma Eddy and Weber State's Paige Stevens.

All-Big Sky Honors
Three Hornets earned all-Big Sky honors last season, including two first team selections: graduated defender Rachel Leonard and graduated midfielder Jennifer Lum. Graduated defender Alexa Heinzer was named to the second team, as well.

Four other Hornets received 2016 Big Sky honorable mention: goalkeeper Destiny Butcher, midfielders Caitlin Prothe and Mikayla Reed, and forward Adaurie Dayak.

Of last year's award winners, only Prothe and Reed are returning to the 2017 team. 

Most Big Sky Wins
Sacramento State opens conference play having won a program-best six Big Sky matches in 2016. The Hornets had previously won a program-best five Big Sky regular season matches in 2015. Prior to 2015, the team had never won more than four Big Sky games in a year, though before the league expanded there were as few as only six Big Sky games played per year compared to the 10 that are played now.

11 Years of Dedini
Sacramento State head coach Randy Dedini enters his 11th season leading the Hornets. He is the longest tenured and winningest coach in program history in terms of both total wins and winning percentage. He has won two Big Sky titles - the only two in program history - in his 10 seasons with Sacramento State.

Coach of the Year
Sacramento State head coach Randy Dedini was named Big Sky Coach of the Year following the Hornets' 6-2-2 conference finish last season. The award was Dedini's third in 10 years at the helm in Sacramento - Dedini was also named Big Sky Coach of the Year in 2007 and 2010.