August 10, 2013

2013 Women's Soccer Preview: Forwards

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

A former 20-goal scorer, Cal State Northridge women's soccer head coach Keith West knows the importance of forwards on the soccer pitch. Amidst the rigors of a Division I schedule, it takes skill, patience, precision and just a little bit of luck.

For the past several seasons, West has had ample resources up front to choose from for the Matadors. Farryn Townley, Heidi Farran and Melissa Fernandez all left CSUN with stellar careers and historic accomplishments.

But for the 2013 season, the task of selecting the squad's premier and lethal offensive talent will require discernment and competition. And that's why West is excited. 

"We have a great group of newcomers arriving for training camp and that includes several freshmen forwards I expect to compete for playing time right away," West explained.

The Matadors bring in three true freshman front line players for the 2013 season: Breanna McCallum, Cynthia Sanchez and Sheridan Smith. All three have compiled outstanding prep and club careers to deliver them to the verge of their first NCAA campaign.

McCallum, the daughter of former NFL running back Napoleon McCallum, comes to the San Fernando Valley from Henderson, Nev. She prepped at Coronado High School and in her senior season, she delivered the game-winning goal to send her school to the Division I state girls soccer tournament. She was named to the All-Southeast League Team, the All-Sunrise Region Team, the NIAA Nevada All-State Team and was voted as the Player of the Year by the coaches of the Southeast League as a senior.

"Breanna has athletic ability with a lot of technical skill," West said. "She has a great attitude on and off the competition field and possesses the speed to get behind the defense. She could have an immediate impact for us." 

Sanchez is a 5-3 forward from Gilroy, Calif., where she played her club ball for the Orchard Valley Strikers and prepped at Gilroy High School. She tallied 17 goals, eight assists and 42 points during her junior season and was named the team's offensive MVP from 2009-11 while also picking up All-League First Team honors each year.

"Cynthia is a gifted player who has great touch and pace," West added. "She is a valuable addition to our group and adds quality and depth to the attack. She is another young lady I expect to immediately challenge the returners."

Smith is a 5-8 forward from nearby Valencia, Calif. Like several current and former Matadors, Smith prepped at Valencia High School and played her club ball for Valley United Stars.

"We are always excited to add a local prospect like Sheridan. She is another energetic player who adds to the depth and competition at the position," West said. 

The Matadors' top returning forward is junior Brittanie Sakajian. After missing the entire 2011 season due to injury, Sakajian returned in 2012 to post a goal and tie for the team lead with five assists. For her career, she has 17 points, five goals and seven assists.

Among the other returning forwards are junior Nicolette Smith and sophomores Hayley Greep, Lyndsey Preston and Kendall Moskal. The team will also have Kourtney Kutscher coming off redshirt seasons to join the attack.

"Brittanie is a tremendous competitor who should thrive with the increased expectations," West added. "Nicolette is one of the most determined student-athletes I have ever worked with. She has battled multiple injuries to be here and is ready to contribute to the team's success. Kourtney flashed glimpses of her potential in the spring and we're excited to have her for the fall."

Preston, Greep and Moskal all saw ample playing time during their freshman seasons. Moskal appeared in 19 matches and connected on the game-winning goal, the first of her career, in the Matadors' win over UC Riverside. Greep played all over the pitch, from outside back to striker, in her freshman season and scored her first career goal in CSUN's draw at Cal Poly. Preston appeared in 20 matches and picked up the game-winning assist in the first game of her career, a home victory over Arizona State.

Sometimes it takes four goals to win a game and other times just one. With a mixture of veterans and newcomers, West knows that the forward position will pay dividends once the all the forces of the group begin to collide and compete. That is how stars are born. 

2013 Women's Soccer Previews:

Goalkeepers

Defense

Midfield

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