Sila Tuiofea Notches Two Goals In Zags 3-1 Win Over South Dakota
SPOKANE, Wash. - The perfect combination of veterans and newcomers bolstered the Gonzaga University women's soccer team to a season-opening 3-1 victory over visiting University of South Dakota Friday at the Gonzaga Soccer Field. Senior forward Emma Dolcetti notched the first Zag goal of the season, while freshman midfielder/forward Sila Tuiofea tallied two goals in her first collegiate game of her career.
"Certainly you want a strong group of veterans to lead the way and then let your young freshman have that confidence with that group behind them and that is what you saw today," explained Bulldog head coach Amy Edwards after the match.
Gonzaga got on the board just two minutes into the contest with Dolcetti's ninth goal of her career. Speedy sophomore Katey Pennington tracked a ball on the end line that South Dakota seemed to think was headed for out-of-bounds. Pennington placed a cross at the back of the goal, which freshman midfielder Heather Johnson headed back towards goal. It was Dolcetti that then got her own head on the ball, and headed it into the left corner of the net.
"Emma had great work rate up front for us today," stated Edwards. "That first goal was incredible. It was great work rate by Heather to head it back and keep it in play and for Emma to certainly finish it."
Johnson and Pennington each were credited with an assist.
The Bulldogs tacked on their second goal of the game at the 31:35 mark when Tuiofea, who had come off the bench 11 minutes before, controlled a flicked-on pass down the right flank by junior Emily Eckmann. Tuiofea was able to dribble her way into the box and placed a left footed shot past the Coyotes goalkeeper Mackenzie Vikor.
Tuiofea then added her second and Gonzaga's third goal of the game 26 minutes into the second half. Senior defender Morgan Manchester served a long ball into the box to the open Tuiofea, who controlled the ball and hit a low-driving shot into the back of the net.
"Sila was able to break out with two goals on two shots," said Edwards. "Sila is dynamic and certainly is a gamer. We knew she had that in her; we hadn't seen it in our scrimmages and training but she let loose on game day. It is a great tool for us to have honestly."
Gonzaga did allow a goal with a little over three minutes to play in the contest when Zag goalkeeper Susan Brown miss-judged the ball, which bounced over her head. South Dakota's Danielle Anderson was there to hit home the open-net goal.
"Our backline was solid for most of the day, until the last 10 minutes," explained Edwards of her defense that had only allowed one shot on goal prior to the Coyotes goal. "It was unfortunate we let that goal in."
Sixteen players saw action for Gonzaga in the two-goal victory, including five freshman.
"We did a lot of good things today," said Edwards. "I was happy with the midfield play of Kasey Rubosky and I thought Emily Eckmann played extremely tenacious all day. Overall, this was small sprint in our long journey."
Gonzaga's journey continues Sunday with a game at Washington State University. Game time is set for 3 p.m.