BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – With her teammates crowded around her, CSU Bakersfield’s freshman Sophie Freeman heard chants of “Happy Birthday” being sung moments after scoring an 89th-minute game-winning goal against UT Rio Grande Valley at the Main Soccer Field Friday night. Freeman’s blast from 25-yards out put the Roadrunners ahead 1-0 with 47 seconds remaining.
With the clock ticking under one minute, CSUB earned a throw in the UTRGV final third. Redshirt freshman Jordin Bartel took a quick throw, which fell to Freeman outside the 18-yard box. Freeman, a freshman and Bakersfield native, took a long shot from the left side that floated over the outstretched fingers of UTRGV’s keeper for the game-winner.
“We felt like it was either going to be a lucky goal or a moment of inspiration that won it,” said Gary Curneen, Head Coach of the ‘Runners. “It turned out to be the moment of inspiration. Sophie saw space and decided to have a whack. She had a great game and for a freshman to deliver that kind of consistency and quality, we can’t speak highly enough of her.”
With the win, CSUB improved to 7-9-1 (3-2-0 WAC) on the season. The Roadrunners earned their seventh victory of the season, a new CSUB Division I single-season record. Sophomore goalkeeper Jen Padilla made seven saves in CSUB’s fifth shutout of the year, another new CSUB record.
Curneen had high praises for his backline and the rest of the team after the match: “The defense came under a bit of criticism last week. I thought UTRGV deserved huge credit for the way they were organized. They have been in recent years, but this year, they are a threat at the other end. They had the chance to steal one, so, Jen deserves credit, but also Mel Cea. That’s the most minutes she has played by far and Morgan Cole stood up big. Maja Green, always an asset and Anesa Sasivarevic. You almost take them for granted.”
CSUB had the closest chance of the first half after earning a free kick in the UTRGV half. Karolina Karnsund started the set piece by switching the field to an open Green. The junior defender played a perfectly-placed cross into the box and found Sabrina Delgado at the back corner. CSUB’s leading scorer took a diving header, but her attempt on goal went just wide as the match remained scoreless heading into halftime.
With just over two minutes to go in regulation, UTGRV had the closest look of the match. A header across the box by junior Hanna Spets grazed off the CSUB post, nearly missing the go-ahead goal. Freeman’s 89th-minute goal gave the freshman four goals on the season with three of them being game winners.
The ‘Runners will return to the Main Soccer Field on Sunday for another WAC matchup. CSUB will welcome New Mexico State to Bakersfield with the ‘Runners sitting in third in the conference with nine points, just one point behind Grand Canyon for second. Sunday’s match is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. here at the Main Soccer Field. Fans who cannot attend can watch via the WAC Digital Network.