Photo by: UCSD
Road to Georgia: Denver Travel Day
Release: Wednesday 11/14/2012 
DENVER, Colo. - The fifth-ranked UC San Diego women's soccer team arrived in Denver on Wednesday evening. The travel party of 22 student-athletes and six coaches/staff departed from RIMAC Arena at around 9:30 a.m., and after flying direct to Denver in two separate groups, checked in to the team hotel in nearby Lakewood a little before 6 p.m.

Some news and notes on the travel day, and what's ahead.

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A favorite from the 2010 postseason run, NCAA Insider, is back. Our first guest, fourth-year senior midfielder, Poway's own Ellie Nevarez.

NCAA Insider with Ellie Nevarez

Q-What were some of your emotions when head coach Brian McManus gave you the start on Senior Day on Oct. 21 after having missed the last three-plus seasons due to injury?

EN-I was ecstatic. I wasn't expecting it at all, and I remember when (Brian) told me two days before, I just started crying. I never expected it, and for him to do that, it really means that I'm part of this team and that he respects me as a player.

Q-What has been the general progression of this season's senior class?

EN-It's been a challenge. It's been a lot of fun. We started off with such a young team (in 2009), and we grew so well together. Then we had to re-learn how to play once we lost half of our team (nine seniors in 2011) that we had been with from the beginning, but I think we really did that well. We just had to learn new styles. As this season has progressed, we've learned the new styles of the freshmen and the sophomores that weren't really involved last year. This team is so close, that that's how we've managed to overcome the difficulties of losing so many people.

Q-Despite all of the injury challenges you've faced, what has the experience been like of being a part of this program the past four years?

EN-It's been incredible. I wouldn't trade it for anything. The girls have helped me through surgeries, and we've helped each other with other problems. Just being a part of this team, I've put up with the injuries because I needed this team through the college experience. Playing's great, and I definitely miss it, but this team is worth sticking around for.

Q-Looking ahead here to Denver and beyond, how will this run end?

EN-I think it will end really well. I think that we're ornery and we'll fight for it. Sometimes we don't put it together all at the same time, but someone's there to pick up when you're not there. If someone's having a bad game, someone's going to have a better game. In the end, that's what's going to count. We just need to struggle through the climate and all that kind of stuff. We're going to do well.

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An anecdote looking back 10 days ago to the Tritons winning the 2012 California Collegiate Athletic Association Championship after a penalty-kick tiebreaker with Sonoma State...

With UCSD kicking first and maintaining a 3-2 edge through the first four rounds of the shootout, senior tri-captain Hayley Johnson coolly stepped up to the spot with the opportunity to end the contest by converting her attempt.

She shot low to her left and froze the Seawolf goalkeeper. Game over. Tournament done. Title won.

One slight problem.

Hayley had no idea.

"Hey Hayley, how did it feel to bury the championship-winning kick?"

"Actually, (pause, sheepish grin), I wasn't actually thinking that (it was over if I made it), because I turned around, saw my team sprinting at me, and was like, ‘uhhh, they still have to kick another one.' Ignorance is bliss, I guess. There wasn't as much pressure, I guess then, on me. It was weird because the kick before, I thought, ‘OK, if they miss this, we win, but if they make it, I have to take one.' So, I don't know why (I didn't realize the game was over). I just wasn't thinking, which is good."

For Hayley and her senior class, that kick ended a run of three consecutive losses in penalty-kick tiebreakers and three straight years of coming up short at the CCAA Championship. Now they've got their sights set on the one last thing that has eluded them; the biggest prize of all.

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Redshirt freshman midfielder Christen Chalmers celebrated a birthday today. While we're on the subject, a belated Happy Birthday going back to this past Sunday to assistant coach and former Triton All-American Kristin Jones.

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Speaking of Jonesy, as she kindly showed the rest of the staff prior to dinner to our stunned amazement, for those that missed it, here's a link to the other-worldly wonder-goal (fourth of the match!) scored by star Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic against England earlier Wednesday.

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NCAA Insider with Kelcie Brodsky

Q-What have you thought of your very first season of college soccer so far?

KB-The experience has been amazing. I never expected to get this far. It's just awesome. The team's great. They're just all incredible players and I'm so excited to be a part of it.

Q-How thrilled were you to be a second-team all-conference selection as a freshman?

KB-It was a huge shock. I did not expect that at all. It's an honor. I'm so glad. It's just great.

Q-Has it been a significant advantage to play behind such a veteran team? Specifically two defenders right in front of you who have started every game they've played in college in Hayley Johnson and Ellen Wilson?

KB-It really helps me keep calm, just because I know that they've been through it, and so they know what to expect. They're able to keep calm in the back. I have a lot of confidence with them having played four years. It helps a lot.

Q-Have you played out here before? Talk about this weekend coming up.

KB-I've played soccer outside of California, but not in Colorado. It should be fun. I'm looking forward to it.

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Brian McManus Weather Update: Shoes, with a chance of light jacket.
Surprised perhaps (or not for those who know him) but impressed for certain to report that Brian made it through the first night in Denver in mid-November without once going to the jacket. Strictly polo, although shoes were spotted. It's 39 degrees at 10 p.m. MT, but should hopefully be a mild week compared to the worst-case scenario. Over 50 degrees and sunny expected for game day on Friday.

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Finally tonight, U-T San Diego reporter Michelle Gingras (@michellegingras) stopped by the Tritons' final practice Tuesday before departing for Denver. Be sure to check out her video report on Thursday. The clip will air during the live online telecast of The Sports Page from 12-12:30 p.m. PT at To view the clip filed by Allie Wagner (@alliewagner17) of KUSI News on Monday, click here. Thanks to both for visiting.

We'll see you back here on Thursday, on the Road to Georgia. Go Tritons!

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