TURLOCK, Calif. - Two early goals lifted the eighth-ranked University of California San Diego women's soccer team to a 2-0 victory over Cal State LA in the 2016 California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Tournament final Sunday at Warrior Stadium on the campus of host Stanislaus State.
UC San Diego, already the champion of the CCAA for the regular season, completed its double and improved to 18-2 overall, and has won 15 consecutive matches. The Tritons successfully defended their 2015 CCAA Tournament title, and now have a record 10 tourney banners. They thus also earned the league’s automatic qualification into the 2016 NCAA Championship.
The Tritons needed just 5:47 to grab the lead, off of some beautiful setup play. Junior left back Aimee Ellis sent a long ball from left to right, with junior winger Jordyn McNutt (San Diego/University City HS) heading back across the goal mouth. Senior co-captain Kiera Bocchino charged that left post and fired her volley into the empty net from close range for her eighth of 2016. McNutt's assist was her league- and career-best 11th. Ellis' was her second.
Bocchino started and scored what would ultimately prove to be her third game-winner this season, despite battling what was presumably food poisoning.
Junior Elisa Martinez (El Cajon/Francis Parker School) added her second of 2016 in the 17th minute, unassisted as she banged home a failed defensive clearance off a deflection and in from the same defender, after McNutt crossed in from the right.
Fifth-year senior goalkeeper Itzel Gonzalez finished with one save for UCSD in posting a league-best 15th shutout. Sophomore counterpart Adriana Maldonado came up with five stops. UCSD held a 16-6 shot advantage.
Both teams hit the woodwork on the day, with McNutt rattling the crossbar in the 12th, followed by Cal State LA's Zarette Muñoz-Aguilar going smack off the post in the 16th. Junior striker Katie O'Laughlin (Carlsbad/Pacific Ridge School) also found the post early in the second half, from the right diagonal after a clever Martinez feed.
Senior co-captain and center back Meghan Berry (Austin, Texas/San Diego Miramar College/Mt. Carmel HS) was the CCAA Tournament Most Valuable Defensive Player, with sophomore forward Mary Reilly (Chula Vista/Hilltop HS) the Most Valuable Offensive Player. Gonzalez, fourth-year senior midfielder Jamie Benedetto, McNutt and redshirt freshman holding central midfielder Natalie Saddic (San Diego/UC Davis/Torrey Pines HS) joined them on the All-Tournament Team.
Sixth seed Cal State LA ended its campaign at 7-9-4. UCSD had taken a contentious regular-season meeting between the sides, 2-0 at home back on Oct. 14, that featured one red card each late in the match. Berry was battling injury throughout the weekend, but managed to anchor two shutouts while helping set up Friday's semifinal winner by Reilly, which is why she got her award.
UC San Diego flies out of Sacramento back to La Jolla Sunday night, and will then await the official announcement on Monday of the 48-team field for the 2016 NCAA Championship. The selection show will air live on NCAA.com at 3 p.m. PT. The Tritons have most assuredly earned the right to host one half of the NCAA West Regional in the coming week. Check back at UCSDtritons.com for details.
Triton Notes: UCSD is 19-4-4 over its 16 CCAA Tournament appearances, including 1-1 against Cal State LA and 9-0-1 in finals ... The Tritons are 11-1 outside of La Jolla in 2016 ... UCSD has outscored opponents 54-7 this year as the West Region's top offensive side, and an incredible 36-2 after halftime ... The Tritons have also outscored CCAA opposition, 38-2 ... This 15-game unbeaten streak (15-0) is UCSD's longest since a 19-gamer from Sept. 19-Dec. 2, 2010 ... It also marks the Tritons' best win streak since they took the final 17 games of their inaugural Division II season as national champions in 2000, and the first five in 2001 ... Four-year starting goalkeeper Kelcie Brodsky (2012-15) and former center back Michelle Yasutake (2011-14) were among the support on hand.