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Killman's Early Goal Lifts Vikings To Regional Final
Jenna Killman (second from left) leaps into the arms of Grace Eversaul (left) after scoring against Point Loma. Western Washington beat PLU 1-0 to advance to the next round of the NCAA Tournament.
Jenna Killman (second from left) leaps into the arms of Grace Eversaul (left) after scoring against Point Loma. Western Washington beat PLU 1-0 to advance to the next round of the NCAA Tournament.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Forward Jenna Killman got Western Washington off to a flying start in the seventh minute, and GNAC First-Team goalkeeper Natalie Dierickx and the Vikings back line did the rest in a 1-0 victory over Point Loma at Harrington Field in a West Regional semifinal in Bellingham.

The Vikings, ranked No. 13 in the United Soccer Coaches poll and seeded No. 2 in the NCAA West Regional, figured to have a strong challenge from the third-seeded and 19th-ranked Sea Lions. Western Washington and Point Loma faced off in 2019’s West Regional finals, with the Vikings winning by a 1-0 score during their run to the national championship match. Earlier this season on the same field, WWU and Point Loma played to a 1-1 tie on Sept. 20.

The match-up also featured two of the nation’s best defenses. As good as Western Washington had been in the regular season – allowing 16 goals and keeping 11 shutouts – Point Loma was even better, only conceding eight times for a 0.482 goals against average, which ranked 10th in Division II.

Point Loma had a grueling first-round match, however, playing two full overtime periods and a thrilling 11-round penalty kick shootout to get past Cal St. East Bay less than 48 hours earlier. With the Sea Lions undoubtedly fatigued, the Vikings had an opportunity to pounce in the early stages of the match, and they took it.

Midfielder Grace Eversaul pressured the PLU defense and blocked an attempted clearance near the end line of the Sea Lions’ net. Off the deflection, Eversaul poked the ball through to Killman, who took a touch and coolly slotted the ball into the bottom right corner for the 1-0 lead. It was the 13th time this season that Killman has found the net, and the goal came on the first shot of the match for either team.

The Vikings seemed firmly in control throughout the first half. Killman and midfielder Tera Ziemer both forced saves from PLU goalkeeper Emma Hinson within the match’s first 15 minutes. At the halftime break, the Vikings were outshooting the Sea Lions 8-4, with five shots on goal to PLU’s one, a 36th-minute hit from leading scorer Alana Diaz.

In the second half, the Vikings seemed intent on doubling their lead. Ziemer fired wide left in the 48th and forwards Dayana Diaz and Ashley Nguyen forced low saves from Hinson in the 51st and 55th minutes.

The next 15 minutes were all Point Loma, however. The Sea Lions kept the ball near the Vikings’ end and grew increasingly desperate to equalize. Starting in the 60th minute, PLU fired seven shots in 12 minutes, but Western Washington’s defense held firm, with three of those seven shots being blocked by Viking defenders. Point Loma’s best chance of the match came in the 72nd minute, when PLU forward Bethany Arabe shot across her body and forced Dierickx to dive to her right and make a smothering catch of the low strike.

After that clutch save, the Vikings did a better job of keeping the ball in their opponent’s half. Sophie Bearden Croft entered the game in the 73rd minute and immediately placed a shot on target and put in a dangerous cross that Eversaul just barely couldn’t reach.

The Vikings were gifted a chance to put the game away with five minutes to play. A Killman cross into the penalty area squirted out into no man’s land, and an onrushing Diaz was clobbered by PLU defender Emma Thrapp. The referee immediately pointed to the spot, but Killman took the ensuing penalty kick and shanked it wide right.

That missed opportunity may have led to some drama in the match’s final moments, but the Vikings kept their composure. Point Loma didn’t register a shot for the final 12 minutes of the match. In total, Western Washington outshot Point Loma 16-12, with ten shots on goal. Dierickx made three saves for the Vikings.

Western Washington now advances to face the winner of GNAC rival Seattle Pacific and Sonoma State in the regional finals and keeps their season alive for at least another round.

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