Sacramento State travels to Idaho State this weekend for its second consecutive Big Sky Tournament postseason appearance. The Hornets, who hold the No. 3 seed, will play in the first match of the tournament against No. 2 seed Montana (10-8-1, 4-2-1) at 9 a.m. (PDT).
The second match of the tourney will feature the two-time defending conference champion Weber State. The Wildcats (9-6-3, 4-2-1) hold the No. 4 seed, having lost both head-to-head matches with Montana and Sacramento State. In order to advance to the tournament final, Weber State will have to knock off regular season conference champion Idaho State (9-8-0, 5-2-0). The two will be familiar to each other, with the Wildcats getting the best of the Bengals, 2-1, in Ogden last Saturday.
The winners of each semifinal match will advance to the championship game at 11 a.m. (PDT) on Sunday, Nov. 5. The victor in the finals will receive the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA College Cup. The last two seasons, Weber State has made it to the NCAA Tournament, upsetting BYU a year ago in the first round.
Despite four previous appearances in the Big Sky Tournament, Sacramento State has not advanced out of the semifinals, including a 2-1 loss to Northern Arizona a year ago. The Hornets have met the Grizzlies once before in the postseason tournament, falling 5-0 in 2000.
“Getting to the tournament this year is very different compared to last year,” third-year head coach Katie Poynter said. “I believe our success even surprised us last season. We were young, and just happy to make the postseason. This year, we had an extremely tough non-conference schedule, and worked very hard in the offseason with a focus of getting back to the tournament. We aren’t surprised this year. We worked extremely hard to get where we are, and we are ready to fight for a Big Sky Tournament Championship.”
A Quick Recap
Sacramento State clinched its playoff berth with a 1-0 shutout of Portland State last Friday at PGE Field. Freshman forward Kim Kemper scored on a 10-yard header off Katie McCoy’s free kick in the 30th minute, and the Hornet defense held the rest of the match to ensure the one-goal lead stood.
For Kemper, it was her third goal of the season, including her second game winner. The Orangevale, Calif., native was named the co-Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week for her efforts. For McCoy, it was her team-leading sixth assist of the season, matching the junior midfielder’s career high set a year ago.
Take A Bow
Sacramento State had seven players receive all-Big Sky Conference honors on Monday, headlined by junior midfielder Katie McCoy and junior defender Katie Burton. For the second straight year, McCoy received first team honors with four goals and a team-leading six assists. Only Idaho State’s Annamarie Hofstetter bested McCoy with a conference-leading nine assists. McCoy and Weber State’s Linsey McFarland are averaging .33 assists per game. McCoy has been the Hornets’ top player the last three seasons earning second team honors her freshman season in 2004, and in her third year with the program, McCoy already has her name in the record books. Her 40 career points rank fourth in program history and her 14 career assists rank second all-time. McCoy’s 13 career goals tie for fourth.
Burton returned to the field in 2006 at full strength after redshirting in 2004 with an injury and playing limited minutes a year ago. Burton has been a reliable option for head coach Katie Poynter on the back line, making 16 starts. The Las Vegas native also has an assist to her credit.
Five other Hornets were named honorable mention. The team’s leading scorer, junior forward Kayelyn Satkowski, who finished second in the Big Sky with 21 points (nine goals, three assists) received all-Big Sky accolades for the first time in her career along with freshman forward Beverly Goebel. One of the team’s top newcomers, Goebel has two goals and five assists in her first campaign.
Senior Kelly Novak (three goals, four assists) was named honorable mention for the second consecutive season, along with sophomore midfielder Sarah Howard (two goals, one assist). Sophomore defender Kara Taylor, who has not missed a start this year, was also named honorable mention.
Sacramento State’s 10 victories this year set a new record in the program’s 13-year history. Head coach Katie Poynter took over the program in 2004 and began to revamp the team, bringing in three straight top-rated recruiting classes. A year ago, Sacramento State finished a program-best second in the Big Sky standings and advanced to the postseason tournament for the first time since 2001.
“We are really proud to have been able to achieve a 10-win season for the first time in program history,” Poynter said. “Our staff, players, parents, and everyone involved with the program have given the team 100 percent support, and that is a great feeling. Our players work extremely hard on and off the field, and we are proud to surpass the record of some of Sacramento State’s best soccer teams of the past.”