An early goal for the Wildcats sets the tone


Photo courtesy of Assistant Coach Kat Benton-LaEzza The Wildcats getting ready to take the field after 665 days.

An impressive start for the Wildcats in their season opener as they beat Azusa Pacific University on the road and spoiled the Cougar’s chances of improving to 2-0. 

The women’s team didn’t miss a beat as they took the field and created opportunities from the first whistle. Eight minutes into the game, sophomore Mackenzie Gill intercepted a careless goal kick from Azusa’s keeper turning into a cross perfectly placed for junior forward Susanna Garcia that made the Cougars pay. This lone goal decided the outcome of the game, giving the Wildcats a 1-0 win over Azusa Pacific.

The goal kick turned goal was the result of a play just seconds earlier as sophomore midfielder Camille Lidster played a ball wide for senior Jordan Doukakis and her cross was nearly put in the back of the net with a header from sophomore forward Madison Parsons.

Safe to say Kim Sutton and company wasted no time to put a statement on the game. 

Creating opportunities for others and herself, Susanna Garcia was aggressive to help put her team out ahead early. Garcia said that scoring the only goal for the game made the night even better and she is proud of the team and how well they came out to compete. 

“Don’t underestimate us,” Garcia said. “At the end of the day we have the same vision, play for each other.” 

This year’s team is filled with new faces, 25 players who have yet to suit up for Chico State. Each of them is just as hungry as the next to prove themselves to the fans and to their team. 

This is an unproven team, however the rest of the league shouldn’t be too quick to jump the gun. Garcia says their victory over Azusa proves they are capable of winning and they aren’t done yet. 

The biggest takeaways from this game was how the midfield for the Wildcats played as a unit. One of those midfielders, Camille Lidster said the communication amongst them is always positive. 

Lidster made a point about the importance of helping one another out each play.

“We make adjustments throughout the game if needed,” Lidster said. “We keep our shape and help one another shift over to mark a player.” 

During her freshman season, Lidster put away a handful of shots for her team. Tonight she was creating chances for others. 

“My goal is to give the team the best opportunity to win,” Lidster said. “I view my role as a leader and a player who can help lead this team to success.” 

While the midfield helped control the game, it should not be overlooked that freshman keeper Emma Hofmann completed a clean sheet in her first start for Chico State. This coming after defending 11 shots with three of those being on frame. 

Hofmann was aggressive all night, attacking every ball that made its way into the 18 yard box. There was a crucial save in the final seconds of the first half, as a long ball was played over the heads of the Wildcats back line. 

For Hofmann this style of play comes easy to her. Contributing in any way possible to come away with the win is the mentality she approaches each match with. 

“As a goalkeeper I have to be brave and aggressive,” Hofmann said. “And for me it’s like second nature.” 

Not allowing a single goal all game is a confidence booster and starting as a freshman can bring on nerves. Although, having the confidence from her team kept her poised. 

“I was able to lean on my teammates and coaches to encourage and push me to be the best that I can be,” Hofmann said. “Our team motto this year has been to ‘Rise Up’ and really the only pressure I felt was to do the best I possibly can.” 

The Wildcats in their next match up take on Biola University on the road on Monday, Sept. 6 at 11 a.m.

Mason Tovani can be contacted at [email protected] or @masonmtovani on Twitter