West's Goal Rallies Titans Past Bulldogs, 2-1
FULLERTON, Calif. -- Cal State Fullerton senior Janali West scored the go-ahead goal in the 74th minute and junior Colleen Ortega added a pair of assists on the day as the Titans rallied to defeat visiting Gonzaga, 2-1, on Sunday afternoon at Titan Stadium.
The win kept Fullerton unbeaten in its last three matches (2-0-1) heading into the start of Big West Conference play, improving to 5-3-3 overall on the year. The Bulldogs, who had evened their record with a win at UC Riverside on Friday, dipped back below the .500 mark, falling to 4-5-1 overall for the season.
"I'm very happy with how our non-conference schedule has finished," Head Coach Demian Brown. "We've played some very good programs, played in some challenging environments, and feel that we are prepared for the upcoming conference slate."
West's game-winner, her first goal of the season, came just two-and-a-half minutes after Gonzaga had equalized in the 71st minute. Ortega started the sequence, pushing in on the right side of the box before chipping off to Erica Mazeau near the endline. Mazeau then skidded a low ball that found its way through the goalkeeper's legs and past a feinting Nikki McCants to a charging West at the left post, who slammed it home to put the Titans in front for good.
It was West's first score since she netted a hat trick at Pacific last season and the sixth goal of her career -- ranking third among active Titans in that category.
Fullerton's offense has seemingly turned a corner, scoring five goals in its last three-straight matches after scoring just five times in the first eight matches of the year.
"Our new attitude in our attack has been encouraging over last two weekends and continue to be a focus as we prepare for Hawaii," Brown said.
Senior Chelsey Patterson got the scoring started midway through the first half, netting her first of the season in the 29th minute to put Fullerton on the board first for the second-consecutive match. Ortega sprung Patterson with a long ball down the right side as the Titans' captain settled and dribbled in near the endline. With Christina Burkenroad crashing at the back post, Patterson lined a shot in her direction, but the ball curved into the left-side netting for a goal and a 1-0 lead.
It was Patterson's first of the year and the third of her career, scoring for the first time since the semifinals of the Big West Conference Tournament at UC Irvine on Nov. 1 of last year.
The score remained that way until midway through the second half when the Bulldogs turned a miscue into the tying goal. An attempted clear by the Fullerton keeper was knocked down by a charging Mikayla Anderson who gathered the ball and fed a cutting Sila Tuiofea in the middle of the box. With the net open, Tuiofea tapped in her first score of the year to make it 1-1.
Tuiofea almost equalized again with just 46 seconds remaining in regulation as Cricket Harber put a perfectly placed ball into the middle that Tuiofea slid onto and missed a second goal to the right post by mere inches.
Fullerton outshot Gonzaga, 14-7, for the match -- 10 of those coming in the second half -- and tacked on a 10-1 advantage in corner kicks for the match. Freshman goalkeeper Jennifer Stuart made two saves in her second start of the year while Christine Tombari stopped six of the eight shots put on frame by the Titans.
West and Patterson shared match honors with the Bulldogs' Karley Baggerly with three shots apiece.
Cal State Fullerton opens Big West play on Friday (Oct. 4) at 7 p.m., hosting Hawaii at Titan Stadium before welcoming Cal State Northridge on Sunday (Oct. 6) at 6 p.m.