Oct. 23, 2011
FRESNO, Calif. - The Fresno State women's soccer team's last match in Bulldog Stadium was filled with movie-like drama. The Bulldogs recovered from defensive miscues in the second half to pull out the 2-2 tie against Western Athletic Conference rival New Mexico State Sunday afternoon. Junior Callie Hancock finished the match one goal shy of completing her second hat trick of the year to lead the Bulldogs offense.
Fresno State (9-4-4, 3-1-1 WAC) finished its regular season home schedule 4-0-2. The tie put them in the record books as the first team in program history to go unbeaten at home in regular season play.
"It feels good," said Head Coach Brian Zwaschka of accomplishing the feat. "Everyone wants to perform well in front of their home crowd and make the most of their home games. The very idea that we've done that and not conceded any defeats is pretty special for the players."
Hancock picked up her first goal of the afternoon after heading in a cross pass from senior Laura Dodd. It marked Hancock's 10th goal and Dodd's third assist of the year to give the Bulldogs the 1-0 lead in the 38th minute.
Their lead would stand through the break as Fresno State outshot the Aggies 9-2, 5-1 on goal.
With just over 17 minutes remaining in the second half, the Bulldogs had a miscue on defense. A failed attempt to clear a cross ended up in the back of the net, tying the match at 1-all.
Hancock responded eight minutes later with her second goal of the day, 11th on the year. Taking a through pass at the left post, she sent the ball in across the goalie into the right side netting with less than 10 minutes to play.
"Callie is clearly someone that is going to be marked and scouted," started Zwaschka. "But she keeps doing the right things to get herself into dangerous positions. She is working very hard to create opportunities for herself and the team and it's great to see her being pretty consistent in terms of finishing."
Three minutes later Layla Todd tied the match at 2-2 on a shot deflected off a defender and into the goal past freshman goalkeeper Katie DeVault.
"We know that realistic you can't cover everything as a team and you can't cover everything certainly singularly as a goalkeeper," said Zwaschka. "Goals are going to be scored and she is a mature enough young lady that she knows that you have to just move on from the most recent goal within a game and certainly have to move on from game to game."
A very physical match, the teams combined for 22 fouls in the contest. The Bulldogs outshot New Mexico State 5-2 in the extra minutes.
"I think it's important to note that I'm super proud of the seniors," added Zwaschka about the day's significance. "They have worked their tails off. There's a lot of emotion wrapped up in a special occasion like this. These kinds of games are extremely demanding and today the team pulled together when we needed to ensure we didn't concede anything."
Fresno State hits the road for its final two matches of the 2011 season. They will face back-to-back WAC opponents, starting with Nevada on Friday, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs have not lost a match to Nevada in five years, owning an eight match unbeaten streak against the Aggies. They lead the series 11-1-2 all-time and are 1-0-1 under Zwaschka. The teams played to a 1-1 tie (Oct. 24, 2010) the last time they met.
The Bulldogs recognized four outstanding student-athletes for their hard work, dedication and exemplary performance over the past four years. This year's senior class has been together since 2008. They have been a part of two WAC Championship programs, made two NCAA Tournament appearances and combined for 16 goals, 28 assists, 60 points and 225 shots. The combined game time played for this class is over 349 hours.
Laura Dodd, a native of Clovis and graduate of Clovis High School, has put in over 6,100 minutes as a Bulldog since walking onto the team in 2008. To-date, she has nine goals, seven assists and 67 career shots. She has scored three game-winning goals in her 80 matches played and is currently averaging nearly 85 minutes a match this year. Her favorite Bulldog moment was watching Head Coach Brian Zwaschka dance up and down the aisles on the plane in front of everyone to music over the loudspeakers after they won the WAC Tournament. Zwaschka describes her as a consistent contributor, but also comic relief.
"She is always up to something that reminds us that being together in a competitive environment can be fun and often can make for embarrassing moments," he added. "She is easy to motivate by telling her that if we win we will change the team colors to purple and everyone will be allowed to wear bows during training and games In truth, she hates to lose and has been a stalwart contributor to this team's success for her four years."
Dodd will graduate with a degree in Communicative Disorders this spring.
Molly Nizzoli, a native of Galt, Calif., made her mark in Bulldog history. A two-time All-WAC and two-time Academic All-WAC team member, Nizzoli is currently ranked 5th on the all-time assists list and 9th in career shots. She is also tied for the programs single season assists record (9) with two regular season matches remaining. Her assists this year have her ranked nationally in total assist and assists per game. Her favorite Bulldog moment was her first collegiate goal because she not only contributed to the team but quieted the rival's fans on their own field. Zwaschka describes her as a fierce competitor who rarely loses a fitness test and knows nothing less than working to give her best.
"She is always up for a battle and never backs down," said Zwaschka of Nizzoli's playing style.
She will graduate with a degree in Criminology this spring.
Rachel Pickett, a native of Napa, Calif., was sidelined her senior year with an injury but she has been a valued member of the Bulldog program for all four years. The defender scored her first collegiate goal against CSU Bakersfield on Sept. 13, 2009. That same year she started a career-high eight straight matches, putting in a full 90 minutes in each. Her favorite Bulldog moment was winning two WAC Championships. Zwaschka said she sometimes tries to hide her workman-like fighter mentality behind a contradictory bow or flowery headband.
"In reality though you don't play for over 25 minutes on a torn ACL if you don't have some serious desire to compete for the Bulldogs," he said adding that "her kind of contributions are what the program is built on.
Pickett finishes up her degree in Communications this spring.
Kendall VanDine, a native of Brea, Calif., has been a captain for the Bulldog program for three years. Her accolades include three-time Academic All-WAC, two-time All-WAC, two-time Preseason All-WAC, 2010 WAC All-Tournament, and 2010 CoSIDA Academic All-District honors. This year she was named to College Soccer 360.com's Primetime Performer Weekly Honor Roll. Out of 1,616 minutes of game time this year, she has played every minute. She has played over 7,300 minutes in her career. Her favorite Bulldog moment was coming into the WAC tournament as the 6th seed last year and taking the championship. Zwaschka says the team will sorely miss its leader, describing her as a coach's dream.
"Her contributions to the success of this program might be unparalleled, though significantly understated," Zwaschka added.
She will graduate with a degree in Communicative Disorders with an emphasis in Speech Language Pathology this spring.
"We Are Your Team!" Fresno State is hosting the 2011 Western Athletic Conference Tournament Nov. 3-4, & 6 on its new Soccer and Lacrosse Field. Be there to witness the Bulldogs defend their WAC title at home. Ticket information and more are available at WACSports.com. You can stay connected with Fresno State Athletics on Facebook (fresnostateathletics) and Twitter (@FSAthletics).
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