Pulliam's Stops Drive Titans to Tournament Title
Courtesy of Cal State Fullerton Athletics Media Relations
For the second straight contest, senior Katie Pulliam entered the match and stopped three UC Riverside penalty kicks in a shootout to power Cal State Fullerton to the program's fourth Big West Conference Tournament Championship Sunday afternoon at Titan Stadium.
Fullerton (8-6-7) earned the league's automatic berth into the NCAA tournament field, which will be announced on Monday (Nov. 11) at 1:30 p.m. PT on NCAA.com. UC Riverside finished its season at 8-12-2 and suffered its second elimination in a Big West Tournament championship match, which was also to Fullerton in 2005 when the Titans won 4-1 at Titan Stadium.
Sunday's match ended in a 1-1 tie after 90 minutes of regulation and an additional 20 minutes of overtime before the Titans clinched the tournament title and automatic NCAA Tournament berth by way of a penalty kick shootout, 2-1.
Cal State Fullerton head coach Demian Brown
(Opening statement) “I couldn’t be happier for this year’s program and the university and now for the opportunity to represent the Big West Conference in the NCAA Tournament. I’m thrilled beyond belief and ready to start breathing after two penalty kick games.”
(On another overtime match) “The last 30 minutes of the second half was a reflection of Thursday night for all the energy we put out to beat a tough Cal Poly team. It was difficult to find a rhythm after some heavy legs.”
(On the reemergence of Nikki McCants) “Nikki is the result of what happens with a great senior class. Nikki was in a drought but she never stopped her work ethic and she didn’t put her head down. Some changes we made during the season didn’t include her and now we can’t live without her. It is a reflection on the type of program we’re trying to build, and they can say they’re the class that got us back to the NCAA Tournament.”
(On giving up the equalizing goal on a PK) “We did something out of character. We took all of the players off the field when the final whistle blew. We did not want to carry the emotion of the last three minutes into overtime. I said a couple of things, and the emotion and maturity of group when I left them was tremendous. To hear our captains and Chelsey Patterson step up and speak to the team, I don’t feel that any of the emotion from the 90 minutes carried into overtime.”
(On the Titan defenders) “I couldn’t be more pleased with our defenders. Both of our goals given up in this tournament were PK’s. Today we had zero shots against us in the first, five in the second, and for them to play the way they have all year long is tremendous. We’ll try to put more work into our attack this week and see who we’re going to play in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.”
Senior goalkeeper Katie Pulliam
(On winning three straight penalty kick shootouts) “Once was awesome, second was crazy, three I don’t have words for it. I feel pretty fantastic. I feel great that I could help my team move on.”
(On her team winning) “ It means a lot. It feels great for the year to come to an end on such a high note and play an important role on my team.”
(On getting the edge on the PK shooters) “I try to read them. Read their body positions and their set up and what they give me visually. It’s a little bit of luck and a little bit of strategy.”