SSU women’s soccer players win consecutive honors — Sonoma State Star

SSU women’s soccer players win consecutive honors — Sonoma State Star

The Seawolves women’s soccer team is off to another strong start this season that has been highlighted by Molly Murphy and Lexi Zandonella-Arasa winning CCAA Player of the Week honors for two consecutive weeks.  Their standout performances have helped Sonoma to a 15 National Ranking according to United Soccer Coaches and a 6-1 start to the year.

 Murphy had two strong performances, starting with a convincing 4-0 victory over, then ranked #22 Fresno Pacific, where she had a goal and two assists. She also added the insurance goal against North Bay rival Dominican University in a 4-0 win, according to SSU Athletics.  

Murphy mentioned how a position change from high school had allowed her more scoring opportunities: “In high school I played midfield, but Coach Emiria and Coach Luna have given me the chance to play forward, which has helped create chances and make goals in front of the net, which has been exciting.”  

The position change has certainly paid off for Head Coach Emiria Salzmann and the Seawolves, as Murphy leads the team with four goals and is one away from scoring as many as she had in her previous two seasons. “Watching her blossom on the frontline after making the change from midfield this year has been a pleasure to watch,” said Salzmann. 

Murphy was a three-year varsity player at Amador Valley High School, where she was awarded East Bay First Team All-League, Amador High School MVP, and was the captain of the team according to SSU Athletics.  Murphy was drawn to Sonoma by the success of the soccer program as well as the academics provided. “I was recruited for soccer during my junior year of high school and decided to commit to Sonoma because of the soccer program, the beautiful campus, and the wine business program they offered,” Murphy said.

Another reason Murphy ultimately decided on Sonoma was the depth of competition and talent in the CCAA. She explained that, “I love the competitiveness in the CCAA conference and within our own team at Sonoma,  it pushes me and my team everyday to be better. In high school, there were some good players, but in this conference there are a lot of good players, so I have to be smart and ready to play every time I step on the field.”

Zandonella’s standout performance that warranted Player of the Week honors was against Azusa Pacific University, where she scored her first collegiate goal and was ultimately the game-winner, going on to win 2-0.  She then scored her second goal of the week, which was assisted by none other than Molly Murphy, in a 3-1 win against San Francisco State.  

Similar to Murphy, Zandonella was drawn to Sonoma by the previous success and passion for winning in the women’s soccer program. “I decided on Sonoma State because of the women’s soccer program. I knew that they were a competitive team and had the desire to win, which is exactly what I was looking for.”

Coach Salzmann spoke highly of Zandonella when asked about her immediate impact on the team: “I knew she was really good, but you never really know until you get into the training environment, especially when over Zoom. I did not expect her to have the capacity to handle the pressure and responsibility that she does.”

After having her first season pushed back due to the 2021 cancellation of play, Zandonella was excited and undoubtedly ready for the opportunity this year. She said, “I’ve really enjoyed playing soccer here at Sonoma. It’s been nice to finally get the chance for us to play in games and compete after not having a season this past year.”

Zandonella comes to Sonoma after a highly decorated high school career at Carondelet High School where she won the 2019 NCS Championship and NCS player of the year.  She was also named captain of her team for the 2019 season. 

Coach Salzmann was clear about the mentality these two have that has made them successful at this level: “They’re both winners, obviously we want to win championships, and we need that winning mentality and spirit.  They’re unapologetic about who they are, and how they play, and they lead by example.”

This season, the goal for the Sonoma’s women’s soccer team is simple: defend their 2019 CCAA title and advance to the regionals. “For the rest of the season we hope to continue to improve in each game, defend our CCAA Conference title, and once again compete in the NCAA tournament,” said Murphy. 

Zandonella echoed the message, “Our team goals for this season are to be first in our conference and win the CCAA tournament. Ultimately, we want to win a National Championship.”

The women’s soccer team opened CCAA regular season play Oct. 1 with an overtime win against Cal Poly Pomona. They return to Seawolf field Thursday, Oct. 14 to play Cal State Dominguez Hills.

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