SACRAMENTO — “Once I saw the shot, I just took a touch and nailed it as hard as I could,” explained UC Davis sophomore striker Celina Minissian after her long-range net-bender secured a season-opening 1-0 victory at Sacramento State late Friday afternoon.
The women’s soccer win — No. 1 for new head coach Twila Kaufman — was a tale of two halves for the Aggies as a slow start was trumped by a strong final 45 minutes. Pasadena native Minissian’s goal came at 80:42.
“I’m really proud of our group for regrouping at halftime and sorting out some of the details,” former Pepperdine assistant Kaufman told The Enterprise. “We need a better start and we need to put a performance together — from start to finish — based on the principles we’ve been practicing.”
That’s for sure since the locals play at No. 24 San Diego State at noon Sunday. The Aztecs will be a little grumpy after Friday’s 3-1 loss to visiting Michigan State; a game in which SDSU outshot the Spartans by a whopping 32-10 margin.
“I’m excited to see our team down in San Diego,” Kaufman says. “I think we’re getting better. We’ve fine-turned some things that we were trying to. I don’t care who we play. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to coach this team, be with this team and watch them get better.”
Kaufman praised her new-look back line — a quartet of Nicole Bouvia, Rachel Smith, Sienna Drizin and Ana Marija Sola — which kept harm from goalkeeper Taylor Jern’s front door, especially over the final 60 minutes. The senior standout was asked to make only two saves as UCD outshot Sacramento, 13-7.
The poor Hornets haven’t scored against UCD since 2009. They haven’t beaten the Aggies since a 2-1 victory on Sept. 3, 2006. CSUS head coach Randy Dedini, in his eighth season at the helm, is now 0-5-3 versus his cross-Causeway foes.
So how good is this defense?
“I think we’re even stronger,” believes Drizin, the former forward who flashed goal-to-goal prowess in her new role. “I think we have one of the strongest back lines in the conference. It’s a new back line, but I think we can do better. I know we will be better.”
And they’ll need to be against Mountain West Conference favorite San Diego State.
But Drizin echoed her coach in assessing Aggie chances down south Sunday afternoon:
“(They have) a lot of talent. We know they’re big girls, and they’re strong,” the versatile junior from Centennial High of Las Vegas reports. “I’ve never played against them, but who really cares who they are? All I really know it’s our job is to bring it every single day.
“We have a new team, a new coach and we are going to bring it. That’s all that matters.”
Notes: Kaufman is loving her team’s depth, praising the play of sophomore substitutes Zuzu Romano, Taylor Locke, Andrea Damian and freshman Kayla Collins: I thought they made an immediate impact.” Collins, who scored a couple of goals in the Sonoma State scrimmage last weekend, played 70 minutes and took four more shots, keeping pressure on Hornet goalie Kimberly Mata. …Former Davis High Blue Devil Kylie Tierney is a Sac State redshirt freshman defender. … UCD returns home for a 5 p.m. Friday tap-off with San Jose State. Next Sunday, Quinnipiac comes calling for a 1 p.m. match. …The Aggie women gave their school a leg up in the Causeway Cup Challenge: The win meant the first five points toward the trophy.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-320-4456.