SAN DIEGO – San Diego State overcame an early dose of adversity and its resilience ultimately paid dividends in the end as it defeated New Mexico State, 1-0, in its season opener on Friday night atop SDSU Sports Deck. The Aztecs moved to 1-0 on the year, while the Aggies dropped to 0-1.
SDSU opened the game by applying heavy pressure to the NM State defense, but its momentum was stalled when sophomore forward Chloe Frisch was whistled for a red card in the 22nd minute. From there, the tide turned and the Aggies spent a vast majority of the first half on the attack.
The Aztecs weathered the storm and entered the mid-game break tied at 0-0. Even with a man-disadvantage, SDSU and New Mexico State were even in shots (4-4) and corner kicks (1-1).
After regrouping at halftime, San Diego State found itself on the defensive, routinely finding itself on its heels. As the game wore on, SDSU began to find a bit of a rhythm on offense and started creating, but with nothing to show for.
In the late stages of the game, head coach Mike Friesen began to substitute more often and in the 76th minute, freshman Taylor Moorehead replaced sophomore newcomer Malia Kaleiohi, who made her first career start. It did not take long for the freshman to make an impact as she corralled an over-the-top pass in the 85th minute, took two touches and blasted her shot past Dmitri Fong.
San Diego State made the first-year player’s goal stand, keeping the Aggies at bay for the final 5:42 as it won its first season-opening game since 2015.
The teams finished with an identical number of shots (8-8), corner kicks (2-2) and saves (3-3) for the game. New Mexico State, however, was called for 10 fouls, including two yellow cards. SDSU, on the other hand, committed two fouls.
With the win, San Diego State extended its regular-season winning streak to five games, a run that dates to last season.
The last two San Diego State goals, dating to last year, have been scored by true freshmen. Then-freshman Mia Root scored SDSU’s lone goal in the 2017 NCAA tournament loss at UCLA and was followed by Moorehead’s strike.
“For us to get a win in that game, in the fashion we did, playing a man down for 69 minutes, and to have a freshman step up and get the game-winner, what a huge boost to our team. A big lift for how gritty we can be, how hard we can work and how much adversity we can withstand. Hopefully, we won’t be in that much adversity in the future, but I think that made us grow a tremendous amount. I am excited we got the win, excited we can grow from it and move on.” – Friesen