Dixie State University’s soccer teams took the pitch Saturday with much on the line against Fresno Pacific University.
DSU women’s soccer won eight of its last nine games heading into the matchup and hoped to extend that streak against the FPU Sunbirds. The game was tight throughout and tied at zero until sophomore forward Darian McCloy put the Storm out front in the 33rd minute with her seventh goal of the season.
FPU found the equalizer exactly 30 minutes later as junior midfielder Bianka Garcia got behind the DSU defense and pushed a shot past Storm senior keeper Stacie Gubler. Gubler recorded a season-high nine saves in what was her finale collegiate start. Shortly after the goal, senior forward Jasmine Arollo was given her second yellow-card of the match, forcing DSU to play with a player down for the remainder of the game.
The game remained tied until regulation, and eventually the first overtime, concluded.
DSU found the back of the net In the second overtime period to come away with the 2-1 win. Junior defender Alexis Torres supplied the game-winner off a free-kick assist from sophomore defender Montana Tanner.
“I’m so proud of our girls,” head coach Kacey Bingham said. “They came out and showed how tough they were by winning that game with so many obstacles in front of them. They finished the season so strong, and we can’t wait to improve even more next year.”
DSU concluded the season by winning nine of its last ten games to finish 11-6 on the year, a one-game improvement over last season that landed the Storm in fifth place in the Pacific West Conference.
DSU men’s soccer came into its game against FPU with an even more impressive turnaround to its season. DSU only won two games last year and finished at the bottom of the conference, followed by the firing of its head coach.
Under the direction of first-year head coach Josh Pittman, the Storm played for a conference title Saturday. DSU hadn’t lost a game since Sept. 6 and were tied with FPU atop the PacWest. However, the game would not go as smoothly as the season had to this point.
“I knew it was going to be the toughest game of the year,” said Santiago Alejandro, a senior midfielder and accounting major from Oakley, California. “Coming into the game, I thought we had a chance to win. We just weren’t able to convert our opportunities, and [HPU] did.”
FPU came out swinging, scoring three goals in the first 26 minutes of the match, a feat the potent Sunbird offense has been known for doing this season.
Junior midfielder Benjamin Cowdrill scored twice for FPU and assisted sophomore forward Dylan Rusconi on the other. The early-game barrage proved to be enough for the Sunbirds to soar to a conference title as their defense held DSU scoreless throughout.
“It wasn’t how he wanted to end the season,” Pittman said. “That doesn’t take away from the year we had, though. We went two months without losing and did it in a year where expectations were fairly low. To say I’m proud of our guys would be an understatement.”
The 3-0 loss dropped the Storm to 10-2-4 on the last game of the season. With an eight-game improvement over last year, school-record 10 wins, 796-minute shutout streak and a second-place conference finish, it was one of the most successful seasons in the program’s history.