BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – The Roadrunner women’s soccer team scored early and often while freshman Sophie Freeman’s hat trick paced CSU Bakersfield to a physical, 5-2 victory over New Mexico State on Sunday. CSUB improved to 8-9-1 (4-2-0 WAC) and secured a two-point lead for second place in the Western Athletic Conference with the victory.

“I have never seen us perform with such intensity and such ruthlessness in front of goal,” said Gary Curneen, Head Coach of the ‘Runners. “Credit to New Mexico State. They worked their way back into it, but we managed to find that fifth gear again and take it. I’m proud of what we did today and I can’t speak highly enough of our performance on both sides of the ball.”

Curneen also commented on Freeman’s hat trick after the match: “What next? Fantastic, just at a different level. To be fair today, I thought the service was really good to her. Her teammates really helped her and gave her some great looks on goal.”

After scoring Friday night’s game-winner, freshman Sophie Freeman netted CSUB’s first goal of the match in the fifth minute. The Bakersfield native headed home a well-placed corner kick by sophomore Haley Vicente to give the ‘Runners an early lead. CSUB continued to be aggressors early on, taking seven shots in the opening seven minutes.

At 11:59, Freeman converted her second goal of the match on another set piece. Junior Maja Green served a free kick into the middle of the box where Freeman’s head found the ball again and put the ‘Runners ahead 2-0 with her fifth goal of the season.

The ‘Runners scored their third goal of the match on another set piece. Vicente earned her second and third points of the match with a free kick blast from 25 yards out. The native of Nevada put the ball into the opposite upper V for a 3-0 lead over the Aggies.

With 11 minutes remaining in the half, the Aggies struck back for a goal of their own. NMSU’s Audriana Chavez finished a through ball from Aileen Galicia to cut the CSUB lead to two goals. With 30 seconds remaining in the first half, Galicia passed across the face of the CSUB goal and Chavez finished her second of the match to make the score 3-2.

The 'Runners came out of halftime with as much fervor as they did in the opening period. In the 56th minute, Sabrina Delgado increased her team lead with the sophomore’s eighth goal of the season on an assist from Aminah Settles and Mel Cea. A native of Hollywood, Fla., Cea made her first career start on Sunday and played all 90 minutes on the back line.

Four minutes later, Freeman completed the hat trick, the 15th in school history and the seventh in CSUB Division I history. As the 'Runners went ahead 5-2, Settles picked up her second assist of the match and sixth of the season, best in the WAC. Six assists also puts the redshirt sophomore in a tie for the CSUB Division I single-season record (Sam Peña, 2012).

The match remained physical as a total of 38 fouls were called and seven yellow cards were handed out, but the ‘Runners were able to keep the Aggies quiet in the final 30 minutes. CSUB held on for its eighth win of the season, increasing its recently-reset Division I record. Sophomore Jen Padilla has been the goalkeeper of record for all eight wins, which is also a new school record.

The ‘Runners will conclude the regular season with a final home match Oct. 29. CSUB will host Grand Canyon in the season finale with seeds in the WAC Tournament still up for grabs. With the win on Sunday, the ‘Runners are two points ahead of Utah Valley and Grand Canyon for second place. With CSUB beating UVU on Oct. 7, the ‘Runners have the tiebreak and need only a tie or better against GCU to clinch second place and the second seed.