It looks like Cal State Bakersfield's Erica Shelton is determined to have a special final collegiate season.
The senior midfielder from Stockdale High had her first collegiate hat trick Friday night to lead the CSUB women's soccer team to a season-opening 4-1 win over Southern Utah at CSUB's Main Soccer Field.
"What a great way to start a season," said Shelton, who scored four goals all of last season. "I've had some (hat tricks) in high school but in college it's a little different situation. It's an honor to do that here."
It was only the second hat trick by a CSUB women's player since the program moved to Division I in 2007.
Shelton's first goal tied it 1-1 in the 29th minute after freshman forward Hedda Regefalk fed her a perfect pass in front of the net.
"In practice the last three weeks, it's been me assisting her," Shelton said. "It just flip-flopped. It's the way it happened. It's teamwork."
Shelton's second goal in the 65th minute put CSUB ahead 2-1. Southern Utah goalkeeper Elyssa Hashimoto inexplicably was standing at least 25 yards away from the goal and Shelton simply lofted a shot from about 40 yards out over Hashimoto's head. With no defender back, the ball rolled into the net.
"I saw her way out there. I just hit it and was hoping a little bit," she said.
Shelton's third goal was on a direct kick from about 20 yards out from the left side of the net. The shot deflected off Hashimoto's fingertips and into the left corner of the net.
CSUB's other goal was a header by freshman Caroline Muoio from a fine cross by Taylor Jordan.
"Winning the opener is a huge confidence boost," said third-year CSUB coach Melissa Phillips. "It's great to see some things. We got to see a lot of young kids step up and some older kids finish off the game."
CSUB plays host to Cal Poly Sunday at 7 p.m.