Chico State women’s soccer opens CCAA play at home Friday – Chico Enterprise-Record

Chico State women’s soccer opens CCAA play at home Friday – Chico Enterprise-Record

CHICO — Chico State women’s soccer coach Kim Sutton said this year’s team is similar to that of her 2018 team, with strong leadership from its upperclassman and a deep, strong group of underclassmen who have quickly bought into the program and embraced the team chemistry.

“It’s just a really fun team. They’re really engaging and hungry to play,” Sutton said. “It’s very competitive so that makes it nice for us as coaches.”

Sutton, who got her first win with the Wildcats program on Aug. 24, 2001 in a 2-1 victory against Western Washington University, will be seeking win No. 250 Friday as Chico State opens California College Athletic Association play against Cal State San Marcos under the lights of University Soccer Stadium. Sutton will attempt to become just the 28th coach in Division II history to get win No. 250.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and attendance is free for Chico State students with an ID card. Friday’s game is free for Chico State students with a Wildcat ID card. General admission is $10, seniors 60 years and older or visiting students with an ID card are $6, children age 3-12 years old are $4 and children age 2 and under are free.

“Those milestones are great and if it gives them some motivation to play that’s fantastic, but for me I’m trying to get us to be better every game. That 1 percent better,” Sutton said Tuesday. “At home it’s easy to be fired up especially under the lights … I’m confident in us and it’s nice that we have all our players for that. Of course it’ll be fun.”

It will be try number two for Sutton and her team chasing win No. 250. Chico State concluded its preseason play Saturday with a 1-1 draw on the road against Humboldt State.

Sutton said this year’s young team, which features just seven upperclassmen, is still struggling with its rhythm and consistency on the road.

Through six preseason games Chico State (4-1-1) has outscored its opponents 20-5, including a 1-0 road win against Azusa Pacific to start the season, a 10-0 victory over Holy Names and a 4-1 win September 18 against Fresno Pacific. The Wildcats’ lone loss was a 2-1 score Sept. 11 against Seattle Pacific.

“The CCAA is brutal everyday. Non-conference we try to schedule as tough as we can but it’s hard to get all tough teams. I wish some of those would have been a little more challenging for us but it is what it is at this point,” Sutton said.

Forward Susanna Garcia, a junior playing in her fourth year with the team after the COVID-19 canceled 2020 season, is the leader of the Wildcat offense according to Sutton and is tied with Madison Parsons with a team-high four goals. Garcia scored in each of the Wildcats’ first four games to start the year.

Garcia said Sutton has taught her so much, and it was hard to narrow down. The junior said Sutton has taught her to take things day by day and that great things take time. Sutton has helped her grow as an individual and showed her how that can help overlap into her soccer career, Garcia said.

“Coach has helped me with maturing and knowing that I can’t control everything,” Garcia said. “At the end of the day you can only control the controllables and smile it out.”

Parsons got the first hat trick for Chico State women’s soccer since 2006 against Fresno Pacific and recorded it in 3 minutes and four seconds, faster than anyone in Chico State women’s soccer history.

“It’s really fun to have a super power offense right now and I have an assistant who is very offensive minded so that’s really helpful,” Sutton said. “But I think for me it’s caring about them and helping them. It’s kind of like a tough love thing. I’m tough on certain aspects but I care about them in the same veins so if they can feel that they’ll play hard for each other and for the program.”

On defense Chico State is led by three of its four seniors Kylie Martinez, Jordan Doukakis and defensive midfielder Sarah Emigh. Sutton said she believes she is a more defensive-minded coach and said that’s because she feels you need it to be successful.

Martinez said she didn’t expect to learn as much she has from Sutton entering as a freshman and she’s become a much better defender than she ever thought. Martinez also acknowledged Sutton’s ability as a coach to care for her team’s culture as a whole, including as students.

In goal for Chico State, freshman Emma Hofmann has started all five games and Sutton said it appears Hofmann will be the starter Friday.

Ahead of Sutton’s chase of win No. 250, she said she isn’t close to being done and said her goal is to win a conference championship. The goal each year is to get to the conference tournament and if the team is able to make it to the NCAA it is “always the extra carrot.”

After Friday’s CCAA opener against the Coyotes, Chico State will host Cal State San Marcos at 2 p.m. Sunday before hitting the road for three straight matchups against Cal State Monterey Bay, Cal State Dominzuez Hills and Cal State East Bay. The Wildcats will return home Oct. 17.

When asked what it would mean to get the 250th win for Sutton on Friday at home, Garcia said “everything.”

“Home game, under the lights, 7 p.m. maybe it’s kind of building up to that but it’s so much emotion so going into Friday night and it’s just so much more important now.”

Venue capacity is limited to 50% and spectators will be limited to seating areas only. At the end of competition spectators are being asked to leave the venue immediately and wait outside the gate to greet participants. Masks are required outdoors where physical distancing cannot be achieved.

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