Sabrina Williamson had the best view at Warrior Stadium of what certainly would be Jade Poon’s golden goal.
Poon had reached the top of the box and was one-on-one against Sonoma State keeper Allison Hadidian, with Williamson trailing by five yards on the left.
But because Williamson never turned her front-row seat into a spectator moment, she was on-spot when Poon’s rocket caromed off the left post, and her own golden goal with 51 seconds left in overtime gave Stanislaus an improbable 4-3 victory over Sonoma State.
“I wanted to be sure this game would end with us winning 4-3,” Williamson said. “I had to be ready for that rebound. I’m glad Jade took on the challenge of scoring and I had to be there to make sure it went in.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Modesto Bee
But just getting to the moment where Stanislaus had a chance to hand the Seawolves their first loss of the season was as unlikely as Williamson – a returning third-team all-conference pick – not having scored a goal through the Warriors’ first 10 games of the season.
Sonoma (3-1 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association, 10-1 overall) got two goals from McKenzie Maher in the first half while completely outplaying Stanislaus (3-1 CCAA, 10-1).
“It felt in the first half like we were playing not to lose instead of playing to win,” said Warriors’ coach Gabe Bolton. “I told the team at halftime that the worst thing that could happen to us today was that we’d lose the game. It’s soccer. It’s Sunday. It’s sunny and it’s fun. So go play.”
Williamson, the third-leading scorer on last year’s CCAA champion, started the comeback with a header off a cross from Maryssa McDuffy 21 minutes into the second half.
Then Poon, who is considered the CCAA’s overall leading scorer with 11 goals despite behind held without a goal in conference play prior to Sunday, gathered a deflected pass from Mikayla Clifford for the equalizer with eight minutes left in regulation.
At that point, coming back to tie Sonoma would have been enough for the crowd of 607, but Poon worked some magic four minutes later. She corralled a pass from Karli Nestler at midfield, spun and outsprinted her defender to the top of the box, then drilled a shot past Hadidian for a 3-2 lead.
Sonoma, in full-forward mode, appeared to spoil the party with just 22 seconds left in regulation when Sara Van Wagoner took a short pass in traffic inside the box and scored to send the game into overtime.
But all that did was set things up for Williamson, who admitted she was frustrated by her lack of scoring this season.
“I was very frustrated not to be able to score, but of all the times for it to happen I’m happy it was right now,” said the junior from Sacramento’s Sheldon High. “We have a lot of heart on this team so I knew we would come through.”
Stanislaus 2, Sonoma State 0 – Jose Ramirez, a junior from Central Valley High, tipped home a deflected free kick in the 49th minute as the Warriors (2-1-1 CCAA, 4-4-2 overall) defeated the Seawolves (1-2-1, 6-4-1) for the first time since 2012.
There were nine yellow cards – five to the Warriors – issued in the physical and sometimes chippy game, but that’s often the case when Stanislaus and Sonoma bump heads.
“We knew this was going to be a battle, especially in the midfield where Sonoma has a lot of special players,” said Stanislaus coach Dana Taylor. “We had to catch up to defend that, and we did as the first half went on.”
Stanislaus, which had outshot eight of its first nine opponents, was outgunned 15-11 by Sonoma, but the Warriors got a break early in the second half after a hard foul just to the right of the box.
Gerardo Cazares sent a low, driving ball toward the middle of the goal, where a Seawolves defender deflected it directly to the foot of Ramirez.
The Warriors collected the insurance goal with a quick counterattack in the 79th minute as Sonoma began to press forward. Manny Villegas, a sophomore from Atwater High, controlled a through-ball at 35 yards. He fed it to Ramiro Ceja on the left, and Ceja found the open left side.
“That’s a huge win for us,” Taylor said. “Friday’s game (1-0 loss to first-place Humboldt State) killed me because we outshot them and controlled the game and didn’t get a positive result. These three points allows us to keep pace heading into a super-hard weekend on the road.”
Notes –The Stanislaus men and women will be on the road the next two weekends, playing at UC San Diego, Cal Poly Pomona and Cal State San Bernardino. The silver lining to the schedule is that the Warriors play their final four doubleheaders at home before hosting the CCAA Tournament Nov. 7-9 ... The Warrior women have won 17 consecutive regular season home games.