Sophomore goalkeeper Nicki Rucki saves a shot against Cal State San Bernardino on Sept. 21, 2018, in one of her four straight shutouts earlier this season. (Courtesy / S.F. State)

SF College Notebook: Nicki Rucki saves the season for SF State, as CCAA first-round game goes to PKs

SF State Women’s soccer advances: After having already made 10 saves over 110 minutes of regular action, San Francisco State goalkeeper Nicki Rucki was asked to do even more.

The Gators’ anchor in goal, third in the CCAA in saves per game (5.65), Rucki had pitched four straight shutouts earlier in the season. After being equalled by Cal State San Marcos’s Bailey Cockrill through two halves and a pair of overtime periods in Tuesday’s first-round CCAA Tournament match-up, Rucki faced a shootout.

After the Cougars got through on their first attempt — by Jessica Harloe — they missed another, and Rucki turned away six of the next seven shots, including the final one: She dove to her left, punched a try by Ashleigh Peterson out of the air and fell on her back, arms outstretched. The 3-2 shootout win means that No. 4-seed San Francisco State advances to the CCAA semifinal round on Friday, Nov. 2, at UC San Diego.

After both teams’ first attempts found net, Rucky made a leaping, diving save on the Cougars’ second. With the PKs tied at 1-1, Gators sophomore Ana Williams’s shot sailed high. Rucki then stoned a lower-right corner shot by San Marcos’s Amy Wilson. SF State’s next shot, senior Madison Messier’s chip to the same corner, was stopped by Cockrill. The Cougars nearly snuck one through, when Emma Moses’s try clanked off the left goalpost, and then perilously bounced off of Rucki’s foot, but Rucki was alert enough to cover it up before it could trickle across the line.

San Francisco State’s fifth shot, by Kelsie Bozart, found the back of the net in the bottom left corner, as she was able to deke Cockrill, giving the Gators a 2-1 advantage. Jessica Moreno, though, tied things up at 2-2 with a top-corner goal on the fifth and would-be final shot, sending even the shootout to extra kicks. Rucki would not allow another ball through, and senior Mariah Perez — with just two goals during the regular season — scored the winner with a quick-snap kick to the lower right corner.

ART U Women’s Soccer Wins Record Falls In Victory Over Chaminade: On Monday, the Academy of Art women’s soccer team broke the program’s single-season wins record in a 1-0 victory over Chaminade. The game-winning goal, from junior defender Mikayla Lopez, gave the Urban Knights are now 8-7-2 overall, and 2-6-2 in PAC West play. They host Notre Dame de Namur in the season finale on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the City College of San Francisco soccer field.

USF Women’s Basketball beats Chico State: The Dons beat Chico State, 71-59 in an exhibition to unofficially kick off the 2018-19 season. Six of San Francisco’s newcomers made their first appearances, but the starting lineup was still anchored by seniors Shannon Powell and Veronica Preciado. They started alongside true freshmen Kia Vaalavirta, Lucija Kostic and Abby Rathbun.

Vaalavirta, a 5-foot-8 guard out of Espoo, Finland, scored the first basket of the contest, kicking off a 9-0 run by the Dons to answer a 5-0 opening salvo by Chico State. Vaalavirta capped the run with a lay-up. After the Wildcats scored six straight, San Francisco answered with an 11-0 run, locking down on defense to hold Chico State to 0-for-7 from the floor during that stretch, and forcing two turnovers.

Vaalavirta slowed down, though, finishing just 3-for-11 from the floor, with three assists and three turnovers. Her fellow freshmen, though, got plenty of run, as Rathbun went 6-of-9 from the field and tied for the game-high with 10 rebounds. Six-foot freshman forward Julie Nielacna, out of Ostróow Wielkopolski, Poland, also had 10 boards in 26 minutes, but shot just 2-of-12 from the floor, and 0-for-4 from three-point range.

Powell led the way with 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting, adding an assist and a steal. Kostic went 2-for-2 from the floor, and pulled down seven rebounds, while leading the team with four assists.

SF State Wrestling earns votes: The first NCAA Division II Wrestling Coaches Association Preseason Team and Individual Rankings of 2018-19 were announced on Monday, and the Gators got a few votes. This season, SF State will face No. 9 Western Colorado, as well as Adams State and Chadron State, which are both tied at No. 21. The Gators’ top grappler is 125-pounder Nathan Cervantez, who is ranked No. 7 in the country in his weight class. Last season, Cervantez finished 25-7, and ranked No. 5 in Division II at 133 pounds. At that weight, he finished second in NCAA Division II Super Regionals, and qualified for the Division II Nationals in Iowa.

Jordan Gurrola is ranked No. 11 in the nation at 133 for the Gators this year, and returns to the mat for the first time since the 2014-15 season, when he was a national qualifier. He finished second at the NCAA Division II Super West Regionals/RMAC Championships, and earned All-RMAC First-Team recognition.

The Gators open the season on Thursday, Nov. 1 versus Life Pacific and Cal State Bakersfield, with both matches taking place at the John Antonio Sports Complex in Bakersfield.

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