Sacramento State opened up play in the Big Sky Conference with its best effort since 2001, recording a 1-1 tie against Eastern Washington and a 2-0 shutout of Montana over the weekend. After Sacramento State surrendered a goal to the Eagles in the second minute of Friday''s match, freshman Sarah Howard headed in the equalizer in the 34th minute. The Chino, Calif., native has started 11 of the Hornets'' 13 games in the central midfield and made a big impact over the weekend, adding an assist against Montana. Once again, she used her 5-foot-8 frame to cause havoc in the penalty box, heading a Maggie Murphy corner kick to Katie McCoy, who score the second goal against the Grizzlies. For Howard''s efforts, the 2005 Chino HS graduate was named the Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week, joining teammates Jenny Lawrence and Linda Sanchez, who received Big Sky honors earlier in the year.
NOTHING BUT NET
After outshooting Montana 6-5 in the first half, the Hornets finally got on the scoreboard just three minutes into the second half on Kelly Novak''s first goal of the season. The Clayton, Calif., native was denied by the crossbar against Eastern Washington, and in the first half against the Grizzlies, but finally found the net for her fourth career goal. Sophomore Katie Burton unleashed a shot that forced Montana goalkeeper Sarah Braseth to make a diving save, but the rebound fell to Novak, who capitalized on the opportunity. For Burton, who returned this season after suffering a knee injury at the start of 2004, she saw her most time of the year playing the majority of the second half paired up with Howard in the central midfield.
Last year, head coach Katie Poynter relied on her freshman class late in the season and 2005 has presented some of the same possibilities with three true freshmen making consistent starts along with two sophomores. Off the bench, four additional sophomores and one freshman saw action over the weekend. The Hornets'' leading goal scorers are from the 2004 class, with McCoy and Phillips each responsible for three goals and two assists apiece in 2005. In addition to Howard having a scoring breakout over the weekend, freshman Kara Taylor and Lawrence have contributed on the defensive side of the ball. Lawrence has spent every minute in between the posts for the Hornets in her first year out of Carlmont HS while Taylor is now the last line of defense along with outside backs Mandi Siller and Marissa Condren. Howard, Lawrence and Taylor are a part of the seven-member freshmen class that was ranked second in the Big Sky Conference by Soccer Buzz Magazine. Lawrence has already accumulated four shutouts this year, moving the Belmont, Calif., native into the top five for shutouts in a single season. Her current goals-against-average of 1.31 would rank her third in single season history.
Sacramento plays just one opponent this week, a match with Big Sky leading Northern Arizona. The Lumberjacks are 2-0 in conference with wins over Eastern Washington, 2-1, and Montana, 2-0. Northern Arizona is 6-8-0 overall in 2005 and is led by Cee Cee Odorfer''s eight goals and four assists. Stephanie Smith and Kaitlin Baum have each recorded three goals and two assists as well.