Women's Soccer: Vikings Win, Advance to Region Final
Play Video Catherine Miles (5), shown in action in last week's GNAC championship game against MSUB, earned an assist on WWU's game-winning goal Sunday (Photo by Andrew Towell).
Catherine Miles (5), shown in action in last week's GNAC championship game against MSUB, earned an assist on WWU's game-winning goal Sunday (Photo by Andrew Towell).

Sunday, November 11, 2012

ROHNERT PARK, Calif. - Forward Kristin Maris (Jr., Issaquah) scored in the 103rd minute, as Western Washington upset Sonoma State 2-1 in overtime  in a NCAA Division II West Regional women's soccer semifinal game Sunday afternoon at the Seawolf Soccer Field.

The 23rd ranked Vikings (19-3-0) won both of their tourney games in overtime to advance to the regional championship contest Friday against nationally No.5-ranked and No.2 seed UC San Diego (15-2-3), in Denver, Colo.  The Tritons eliminated Seattle Pacific Saturday at La Jolla, Calif., by the same score, also in overtime

Host Sonoma State, rated No.10 nationally and the No.1 seed, completed its season 16-3-2.

The game winner came less than three minutes into the second half of overtime. Catherine Miles (Fr., Anacortes) dribbled into the penalty area on the right side and reached the end line before cutting a pass back into the middle.  Maris held off a defender to get a foot on the ball, and it slowly rolled into the net.

“I really don’t remember much about it,” said Maris, who scored her team-leading ninth goal of the season. “The ball came in from the right and I knew I was going to get there, so I just tried to redirect it, and the next thing I knew, it was in the back of the net.”

Maris had helped WWU open the scoring in the ninth minute, being brought down in the penalty area while attempting to shoot. Joana Houplin (Sr., Olympia) converted the penalty, her sixth goal of the year, driving a shot inside the left post.

“Sometimes having the bye like Sonoma did can be tricky, because you have to go through the nerves (of post-season),” said WWU coach Travis Connell (10th year, 121-58-19). “We had been through that on Friday, and that helped us at the beginning of the game.”

SSU nearly equalized barely 30 seconds later, as Ashley Martin got the ball behind the Viking defense only to put her first-touch shot off the crossbar from seven yards.

The Seawolves had an 11-9 advantage in shot attempts in a first half that featured numerous good chances for both teams. WWU defender Kayla Russ (Jr., Puyallup/Bellarmine Prep) played a key role in maintaining the Viking lead, twice clearing loose balls off the goal line.

The Vikings nearly doubled the lead five minutes into the second half, as a header by Brianna Jones (So., Bonney Lake) off a corner kick was cleared off the line by the Seawolves’ Gretel Amman.

SSU equalized in the 74th minute. Cara Curtin got free down the right side and played in a low cross to Elena Catania, who scored with a blast from 10 yards.

“They’re a very talented team, and they dominated sections of the game,” Connell said.  “We knew it wasn’t going to end up 1-0.”

WWU had the first good chance in overtime, as in the 93rd minute a header by Miles  went just wide. But 10 minutes later, Miles set up the game-winner, sending the Vikings to the next round.

"Our girls never back down, they really believe in themselves,” said Connell. “We lost on a late goal at Seattle Pacific, and since then, we’ve been determined not to let that happen again.”

WWU was outshot, 22-17, with conference Player of the Year goalkeeper Jamie Arthurs (Sr., Richland) making eight saves.

It is the first time since 2008 that the Vikings have reached the regional final. That season, they lost 1-0 to Seattle Pacific in overtime at Kirksville, Mo.

WWU, which won both the Great Northwest Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles, advanced to the second round with a 2-1 overtime win over Cal Poly Pomona on Friday.

UC San Diego 2, Seattle Pacific 1

LA JOLLA, Calif. – Jessica Wi scored a goal just over three minutes into in the final overtime Saturday as fifth-ranked UC San Diego eliminated Seattle Pacific 2-1 at Triton Soccer Stadium.

The No. 3 seed Falcons (15-4-2) saw their season end two days after posting a 1-0 opening-round playoff win over BYU-Hawaii.

“We gave ourselves some chances to win tonight and I couldn’t be prouder of this team,” said coach Chuck Sekyra, who has directed SPU into the postseason in each of his 10 seasons.

“It’s hard to be upset after our effort tonight. We played our butts off against a very seasoned, veteran team on their field, in front of their crowd. Our kids carried out our game plan and played their hearts out. I couldn’t ask for any more.”

SPU nearly won Saturday’s game at the end of regulation. A hard, 20-yard shot by Annie Thomas (Lake Stevens, Wash./Lake Stevens HS) with five seconds showing on the clock bounced off the underside of the crossbar, but did not go into the goal.

“I thought it was going in, but obviously it didn’t,” Sekyra described. “That’s the way it goes. It was good crack.”

Instead, the teams proceeded to play a scoreless first 10-minute overtime session. The Tritons pressured the SPU goal early in the second overtime and got off two quick shots.

They won a corner kick that was served into the box. The ball bounced around among several players before squirting loose to Wi near the left post. She tapped it into the left side of the goal at 103:17 to end the game.

In the first half, San Diego got into the scoring column first when Gabi Hernandez poked in a loose ball on the left side near the goal line at 18:18. A corner kick dropped into the box and the ball fell to the feet of Hernandez during a scramble in the goalmouth. She tallied her eighth goal of the season.

SPU’s leading scorer Megan Lindsay netted the equalizer at 32:50, gathering a rebound near the left post and booting it in for her 12th goal. Thomas initiated the scoring play with a high, 25-yard shot that was blocked by goalkeeper Kelcie Brodsky, who was unable to control the ball.

“Her effort on following the shot, it was awesome,” Sekyra said. “That’s what Megan has lived on her whole time here, hustling and having a great attitude about being a goal-scorer. Tonight she believed the ball would be there and found a rebound.”

A senior forward, Lindsay (Spokane, Wash./Gonzaga Prep) completed her collegiate career as the Falcons No. 3 all-time scorer with 41 career goals.

Junior goalkeeper Natalie Harold (Vancouver, Wash./Heritage HS) made three saves for SPU, which was outshot by a 20-16 margin. She made a tremendous save on an 18th-minute shot by Wi with a dive high to her right to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Harold got some help from the framework as two Triton shots caromed off the crossbar and two deflected off the post.

Brodsky stopped four shots for San Diego.

Saturday marked the fifth NCAA tournament clash between the West Coast women’s soccer powers. UCSD won its third playoff matchup, including 2010 and 2006 decisions. The Falcons were victorious in 2008 and 2005.

They are both former national champions as SPU won the 2008 title and the Tritons won back-to-back crowns in 2000 and 2001.