East Bay’s Women’s Soccer named CCAA Champions

David Phan, Sports Editor

California State University, East Bay Women’s Soccer claimed their first CCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament Championship on Nov. 14.

After winning their first-round match in a penalty shootout (5-4) against Stanislaus State on Nov. 12, the Pioneers upset the No. two seed, Chico State in overtime in the semifinals. They then overcame a second-half deficit with two goals in two minutes to defeat the No. one seed Sonoma State 2-1 on Nov. 14.

Jordan Smith, the team’s starting goalkeeper is only in her junior year. She noted that when it comes to athletes that inspire her Brianna Scurry is a name that comes to mind. Scurry was a goalkeeper for the U.S. women’s national team. “Her mentality of goalkeeping is very admirable and it made me feel like I wasn’t the only one who struggles with it in goal,” Smith explained.

For many teams, it’s a struggle to even get a chance to contend for a championship, let alone winning it on their first berth in the tournament. Smith and forward Kayla Morales agreed that it’s still an unbelievable moment to process. Morales noted that “looking back we had a goal to just make the playoffs for the first time. Now I can say we are CCAA champions. The feeling is surreal to me and I’m excited that I have another season to play.”

As big of a moment, it was for East Bay’s athletics, the excitement of the players was prevalent.

“It is still an unbelievable feeling that we are the CCAA Champs. I still feel like I haven’t fully processed it yet. We just went out and played soccer with no certain expectations for anything,” Smith added.

Similarly, senior forward Tami Kwong, who received all CCAA 2nd team selection noted that “I still think it is so surreal that we are the 2021 CCAA Tournament Champions. At the beginning of the season, our team goal was to make it to the playoffs, and meeting and exceeding our goal, especially this being my last season, was the most amazing feeling.”

Whether it was the crucial play or a moment before the game. Tournaments are won through these momentum-changing decisions. For Smith, it was “the little moments are what got us through the tournament. It started with [Stanislaus State] missing their penalty kick in regulation of the quarter-finals and then knocking them out in penalty kicks later on. The game-winning goal [Kwong] scored against Chico was just outstanding and really gave us the momentum and want to win going into the Championship game.”

Kwong also highlighted the game against Chico as a defining game, “I think our defining moment during the tournament was the semi-final game against Chico. We started the game with a lot of energy and trust in each other.”

While for Morales it was winning the first game against Stanislaus State to prove to her and the team that they are built for this tournament and are able to contend with the best of them. She noted that “we all showed up and played together and it seemed like no team could bring us down. We really stepped up and played together as a team and I think that showed our characteristics as a team.”

East Bay’s women’s soccer team was not only successful in winning their first CCAA tournament but was also able to enter their bid into NCAA West Regional. This is a big moment for CSUEB’s athletic program and as big of a moment it was for the team, they exceeded expectations and put the program on the map.