By: Celina Abad
The SFU women’s soccer team opened their 2017 season earlier than expected on Saturday after extreme heat in California forced kickoff from 1:00 p.m. to 10:30 a.m. Despite the less than favourable conditions, the Clan prevailed with a 3–0 non-conference victory against its hosts, the Cal State East Bay Pioneers (CSUEB).
The Clan played well on the defensive side of the ball, leading to offensive chances: head coach Annie Hamels called her team’s performance “smart, organized soccer.” She also praised CSUEB for considering the athletes and arranging for an earlier kickoff time.
Midfielder Jenna-lee Baxter scored the first goal of the match in the eighth minute off of a free kick, and the Clan never looked back. Sophomore Emma Pringle got on the scoresheet four minutes later after capitalizing on a pass from forward Katelyn Erhardsen. The goal gave SFU a commanding 2–0 lead at halftime.
The Pioneers started the second half with some jump and generated opportunities at the beginning of the half, but failed to execute against Clan goalkeeper Priya Sandhu. Pringle then sealed the match midway through the half by heading home her second of the game. It was the second multi-goal game of her career.
Last year, Pringle scored nine goals for SFU — including two in the first match of the season — and was named the Great Northwest Athletic Conference’s (GNAC) Freshman of the Year. She was also on the All-GNAC First Team. Her two goals in this year’s opener are a good sign for the Clan, who is counting on her production to be as consistent as last year’s.
Sandhu finished with three saves and her first clean sheet of the year. Baxter, Erhardsen, and Christina Dickson also had strong games for SFU while Nea’lani O’Neal and Lauren McDougal stood out of CSUEB.
Coming off their first GNAC Championship appearance last year, the Clan was picked to finish fourth in this year’s GNAC Coaches Preseason Poll. It’s a huge leap for the program after SFU finished dead last in the conference in 2014. With 10 returning players, the team looks to take another step forward this season.
Next up, the Clan is heading home for four games. The home stand begins at 5:00 p.m. on Labour Day at Terry Fox Field against the Cal State Los Angeles Golden Eagles. The Cal State Stanislaus Warriors and Westminster College Griffins also come to town before SFU closes the home stand against the Seattle Pacific University Falcons in the team’s first conference match of the year. All four games can also be seen on Clan TV.