Nov. 27, 2013
By Kasandra Martinson
FRESNO, Calif. ---In a season full of records and Mountain West honors, the Fresno State soccer team finished its second season in the MW with a 10-8-2 overall record and 7-2-1 record in the conference.
Six seniors- Tara Boynton, Morgan Castain, Kayla Kret, Lauren Lindstrom, Megan Mossman, and Shonice Myers led the Bulldogs past a slow start in 2013 to finish their careers on an eight-game unbeaten streak as they headed into the conference tournament.
"The motivation came from the team and last year," said Castain. "I think our senior class took it upon ourselves to practice harder and play harder than we did last year. As seniors we feel amazing about how we ended our year."
Although the Bulldogs finished the year strong, Fresno State had a slow start to its 2013 season, dropping its first three games including a loss to No. 23 Santa Clara on Aug. 31 in its home opener. Despite losing in overtime that night, it was a game to remember at Bulldog Stadium as 4,328 Red Wave fans showed up to cheer on the 'Dogs - which broke the attendance record for a Fresno State women's soccer game.
After playing in front of its home crowd on that magical night Fresno State went on its first win streak of the season, winning three-straight road games over Gonzaga, Eastern Washington and UC Riverside.
After the win over UC Riverside on Sept. 13, Fresno State did not find another victory until its next home game which came in their third conference game of the season against Nevada on Oct. 4.
The 'Dogs win over the Wolf Pack kicked off an eight-game unbeaten streak as well as a five-game winning streak in Bulldog Stadium for Fresno State. With conference wins over UNLV, Utah State, Boise State, Air Force, Colorado State and San Jose State, the Bulldogs entered the 2013 MW Tournament with a No. 2 seed, giving them berth into the semifinal round.
The win over Colorado State on senior night marked its fifth straight win in Bulldog Stadium in 2013, which tied the Fresno State all-time record of consecutive home victories (five). The only other time this was done was in the1997 and 1998 seasons.
The Bulldogs pushed nine of their 20 matches into overtime in 2013, which set a new Fresno State record for most overtime matches in a single-season. The 'Dogs won five of those eight overtime matches that they played in, which also broke the school record for most overtime wins in a year. The record previously was three, which was done four times.
At the conclusion of regular season play, Fresno State swept three of the four most prestigious MW postseason awards while three Bulldogs players were named to the All-MW teams. Castain was named Offensive Player of the Year, Bulldog defender Ariana Holmes was named Freshman of the Year and Fresno State head coach Brian Zwaschka was named Coach of the Year. Castain and Katie DeVault earned All-MW first-team honors, while Holmes was named to the All-MW second-team.
In his fifth year at the helm of the program, Zwaschka became only the second coach in program history to be named conference coach of the year.
"I'm honored to be voted that by my peers, everyone in our conference is such competitors and there are a lot of really neat minds that you have to coach against," said Zwaschka. "It's not a solo effort, I have a great staff and the players were very committed and the support from the university, it all adds up to something like that, so I am very honored but I am very appreciative as well."
In her last season as a Bulldog, Castain led Fresno State with 12 goals, two assists, 26 points and 58 shots. Her 12 goals ranked tied for first in the MW while Castain's breakout senior season moved her up in the Fresno State record books. On the all-time career leaders list she now ranks sixth in points (53), sixth in goals (23) as well as fifth in shots (138).
"From start to finish she was in it, "Zwaschka said. "She is a strong player mentally, Morgan always bounced back and learned more and more about being an opportunist, which is a big part of the position. That paired with her athleticism and technical ability and her desire to score, it all came to fruition for her."
In her freshman campaign Holmes recorded 1747 minutes on field, recording one goal and three assists as a lead defender for the Bulldogs. A versatile player, Holmes also put in eight minutes as goal keeper, recording an overtime win over UNLV.
"Ariana was a great pick-up for us, the best part is that we have her for another three years and we know she still has a lot to learn and a lot of maturing that is possible yet," said Zwaschka . "She is really proud to be a Bulldog, and that is pretty cool, to me it sets the stage for her to really dig in and work on building on the success she's had"
In addition to dominating the MW postseason awards, the Bulldogs earned six Mountain West weekly honors during the season under Zwaschka. DeVault was named MW Defensive Player of the Week three consecutive weeks in a row (Oct. 7-21). Castain earned MW Offensive Player of the Week honors twice, on Sept. 9 and Oct. 7, while Holmes was also named MW Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 9. Fresno State has swept both defensive and offensive weekly awards twice in 2013.
The No. 2 seed Bulldogs eight-game unbeaten streak was broken with a loss to No. 3 seed-Boise State in the semifinal round of the MW Championship to end their season. With the goal of winning conference next year, the Bulldogs will return six starters to their 2014 squad as they enter their third year in the MW, including MW freshman of the year Holmes.
"I believe our whole team helped us get these awards, which really means a lot," said Holmes," Hopefully it a forecast for what is to come in the future."
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