#QuestFor8: No. 6 UC San Diego Takes the Field in Pittsburgh Against No. 17 Bridgeport in Semifinals Thursday
Match 24 - NCAA Championship National Semifinal
vs. No. 17 Bridgeport (18-4-1, 8-1 ECC)
Thursday, Nov. 29 • 2 p.m. PT (5 p.m. ET)
Highmark Stadium • Pittsburgh, PA
Live Video (free) • Live Stats • Tickets
TRITONS OFF TO PITTSBURGH LOOKING FOR EIGHTH NATIONAL CROWN
The sixth-ranked University of California San Diego women's soccer program is headed to the final destination in its pursuit of an eighth national championship, and first since 2001. The Tritons will leave for Pittsburgh, Pa., early Monday morning, for two final days of preparations for a national semifinal of the 2018 NCAA Division II Championship, to be played this Thursday, Nov. 29. All three games will be contested on the turf surface of 4000-seat soccer-specific Highmark Stadium, home of Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC of the United Soccer League (USL) in Pittsburgh's Station Square. As the back-to-back West Region champion, the Tritons (19-2-2) face 17th-ranked East Region champion University of Bridgeport (18-4-1) of Bridgeport, Conn., with kickoff set for 2 p.m PT (5 p.m. ET). Top-ranked and undefeated Midwest Region champion Grand Valley State (24-0-1) of Allendale, Mich., takes on South winner Lee University (17-6-1) of Cleveland, Tenn., in the other semifinal at 5 p.m. PT (8 p.m. ET), with Saturday's final set for a 12 p.m. PT (3 p.m. ET) start. UC San Diego was the top seed in the West, with Bridgeport the No. 2 seed in the East. Division II reseeds for the final site in most if not all of its team championships these days, and last Sunday night, the Tritons were awarded the No. 2 seed for Pittsburgh, with Bridgeport the No. 3 seed. GVSU is the top seed, with Lee the fourth seed.
UC San Diego is a repeat treble winner as the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) regular-season and tournament double champion for a third successive year. The Purple Knights are indeed also treble winners, as regular-season and tournament victors of the East Coast Conference (ECC). The NCAA Championship began on Nov. 8 with 56 teams.
This week's activity is all part of the 2018 NCAA Division II Fall Festival, as national champions will be crowned in the Pittsburgh area in six different Division II sports, those being men's and women's soccer, men's and women's cross country, women's volleyball, and women's field hockey. SportsPITTSBURGH, Clarion University and Slippery Rock University serve as co-hosts. The UC San Diego women's soccer program previously took part in a Division II Festival in Louisville, Ky., in 2010, falling to Grand Valley State 4-0 in the final.
UC San Diego is 8-2-2 away from home in 2018, while UB is 7-4-1. Thursday will mark the Tritons' fourth game this year on artificial turf, with an initial appearance in a come-from-behind season-opening victory, 2-1, at Concordia Irvine back on Aug. 30, prior to last week's action in Texas, when they went 1-0-1.
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP TICKET INFORMATION
A general admission all-session package for this week's NCAA Championship is $20 for adults and $15 for students and children. Single-day rates are $15 for adults and $10 for students and children. A group option, for 10 or more tickets, is available at $5 per entry. Parking appears to have a flat rate of $6 in the West lot of Station Square adjacent to the Highmark Stadium office building. Additional parking is available at an hourly rate, with more info here.
All three games this week in Pittsburgh will feature a live video stream, free to all, here. Brendan Gulick (@brendangulick22) and Kit McConnico (@KitMcConnico) will call the action. There will also be live stats. Fans can access live coverage from the Schedule/Results page, or by clicking on the links above. Starting lineups, live in-game updates and other news and notes can be found on the UC San Diego Athletics Twitter handle (@UCSDtritons). Be sure to also check out Instagram posts and stories on the Triton Women's Soccer (@ucsdwsoc) and UC San Diego Athletics (@ucsdtritons) accounts during the week.
UC SAN DIEGO IN THE UNITED SOCCER COACHES POLL
• Nov. 6: 6 (1st in West)
• Oct. 30: 10 (2nd in West)
• Oct. 23: 6 (1st in West)
• Oct. 16: 11 (2nd in West)
• Oct. 9: 10 (2nd in West)
• Oct. 2: 1 (1st in West)
• Sept. 25: 1 (1st in West)
• Sept. 18: 2 (1st in West)
• Sept. 11: 2 (1st in West)
• Sept. 4: 2 (1st in West)
• Preseason: 5
A LOOK BACK AT LAST WEEK
UC San Diego converted on all four of its attempts to get past 16th-ranked and third-seeded rival Western Washington in their West Region final rematch on Nov. 16 in Canyon, Texas, via penalty-kick tiebreaker, 4-1. The official match result was a 0-0 tie, as Angelica Ramos notched her ninth individual clean sheet in net for the Tritons, making a huge save in the 80th minute, and one stop in the tiebreaker. In order, Natalie Saddic, Michelle Baddour, Delaney Whittet and Megumi Barber hit the target for the Tritons, while the third Viking attempt went wide right after Ramos' denial, setting Barber up for the decider. It was effectively a rubber match between the sides, who split the previous two West finals. UC San Diego then rolled past host West Texas A&M, 5-0, in Sunday's national quarterfinal, getting all five goals from fourth-year seniors, led by Barber's first career hat trick. Summer Bales and Mary Reilly scored one apiece and combined for three assists, Bales' her league-leading 10th. Ramos made four more stops for another shutout.
The Tritons are in search of an eighth national title. The first five came during the NCAA Division III days, with the last two coming in UC San Diego's first two seasons at the Division II level (2000, 2001). UC San Diego is making its 16th Division II tourney appearance in its 19th year since moving to Division II, and in the midst of a milestone 30th NCAA run in all. The Tritons take a record of 28-11-5 (.693) in NCAA Division II Championship games into Thursday's national semifinal. They now have eight Division II West Region crowns, in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2010, 2012, 2017 and 2018. UC San Diego previously was 37-8-2 (.809) in 14 NCAA appearances in Division III. It is 4-1 in the semifinal round in Division II days, with a lone loss to Franklin Pierce, 2-1 in overtime, in Virginia Beach, Va., in 2003, a result which ended current coach Kristin Jones' great playing career. Jones in fact is the last Triton to have scored a goal in a national final, the 78th-minute capper in a 2-0 win in La Jolla as a sophomore in the 2001 championship game over Christian Brothers on Dec. 2, 2001.
MARQUEE MATCHUP UP TOP
Thursday's semifinal matchup will feature a showdown of two top forwards in UC San Diego senior Mary Reilly and Bridgeport junior Maegen Doyle of Harwich, England. Reilly leads the West Region with her career-high 16 goals, while Doyle is second nationally with her 27 tallies, with a nation-best (tied) 13 game-winners. Reilly has seven deciders. Strike partner and fellow fourth-year senior and San Diego product Megumi Barber, is up to a career-best 11 goals to join her in double figures, having struck for six thus far over five postseason contests. That includes a first collegiate brace in the CCAA Tournament final on Nov. 4, and first career hat trick in Sunday's national quarterfinal. Reilly and Doyle are the Offensive Players of the Year for their respective leagues, as well as D2CCA Players of the Year for their respective regions, West and East. Doyle has scored in 17 consecutive matches.
FIELD IN THE STEEL CITY
UC San Diego has never faced Bridgeport or Lee. The Tritons have split two previous meetings with Grand Valley State, losing 4-0 in the 2010 final in Louisville, Ky., before winning 2-0 in a 2012 semifinal in Evans, Ga. GVSU leads the nation with its 96 goals scored, exactly twice that of UC San Diego's West-best 48, with Bridgeport sixth (67). Lee has scored 58 goals. The teams' goals-against averages are 0.314, 0.512, 1.033, and 0.998, respectively. GVSU is on its 16th Division II tournament run, all over the past 16 seasons, with five national titles (2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015) and a 46-10-7 mark. Bridgeport earned its 10th berth, and is 14-7-2 with one third-place effort in 2015. Lee is making a fourth appearance, all coming consecutively, with a 5-2-2 mark.
Last Friday's repeat West Region title meant a ninth trophy for fourth-year Tritons Summer Bales, Megumi Barber, Kelsey Kimball and Mary Reilly, which appears to have matched the program record of UC San Diego great and current coach Kristin Jones' 2003 senior class. This 2018 quartet has four CCAA Tournament, three CCAA regular-season and two West Region trophies. Jones' class had four CCAA Tournament, three West Region and two national championship trophies, with the CCAA only beginning to recognize a regular-season victor in 2014. UC San Diego's current crop of seniors will look for an even and record 10th piece of hardware this week in Pittsburgh.
Megumi Barber's first career hat trick, which, having mostly played in central midfield growing up, she claimed later may have been her first at any level, was the second by a Triton in 2018. Strike partner Mary Reilly produced her second career four-goal game at home in the CCAA opener back on Sept. 14 in a 6-1 romp over Cal State Monterey Bay. Barber's feat marked UC San Diego's first postseason hat trick since Erika Alfredson posted one in a 5-1 victory over UC Davis in the CCAA semifinals in La Jolla on Nov. 2, 2001. Barber's was in fact what is termed a perfect hat trick, meaning it consisted of a right-footed goal, left-footed strike, and header. The San Diego product even chested the ball down ahead of her 11th-minute opener with the outside of her right foot. She played just 36 minutes in the match. Barber now has a remarkable six goals in this five-game postseason run thus far, more than doubling her regular-season output and putting her in double figures for the first time as a Triton, now at 11. She has 17 goals for her college days.
REILLY EYEING 50
Mary Reilly's next goal will be the 50th of her incredible Triton career as a four-year starter, the only one on UC San Diego's 2018 roster. It will also mean her 17th goal of 2018, which would match Erika Alfredson's (2001) single-season program record for the Division II era, which began in 2000. Reilly's 49 career goals put her alone in fourth all-time, and is the standard for UC San Diego's Division II history. She is fifth in total points (121), also a Division II-era mark. Reilly's 381 shots, including a career-best 114 this year, are believed to be a program record, having led the CCAA in the category, comfortably, in each of her four years. She has 46 more than teammate Megumi Barber (68) in second.
BIG COMEBACK IN NCAA OPENER
UC San Diego stormed back from a 2-0 deficit to eliminate fourth-seeded city rival Point Poma, the Pacific West Conference champion, by a final score of 3-2 on Nov. 10 in its final home appearance in the second round of the NCAA Championship. The Tritons surrendered a pair of shock goals just 114 seconds apart after the half-hour mark, but began their fightback thanks to a 40th-minute strike by Mia Bonifazi that was assisted by freshman Ashlynn Kolarik. Megumi Barber's direct free kick knotted things in the 58th, and Caitlin McCarthy squirted her left-footer just underneath the goalkeeper in the 80th, to keep the Tritons' season alive. Angelica Ramos was credited with a career-best 10 saves as she faced season highs of 23 shots and 12 on target.
The Division 2 Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) All-West Region teams were unveiled on Nov. 14, with Mary Reilly the D2CCA West Region Player of the Year. Triton co-captains Summer Bales and Natalie Saddic joined her on the 13-player first team, with all three advancing to the All-America ballot. Reilly is a four-time D2CCA All-West Region selection, with two first-team nods and a pair of second-team appearances, while Saddic is a repeat first-teamer as a second-team 2017 D2CCA All-American.
RECENT OFFENSE, STRONG DEFENSE
UC San Diego looks to be clicking on all cylinders when it means the most, having scored 16 goals over its five postseason matches, all coming in four wins around a scoreless draw in the West Region final on Nov. 16. The Tritons lead the CCAA and West Region with 48 goals. They rank 11th nationally with a 0.512 team goals-against average, which also leads the league and is second in the West.
CCAA TOURNAMENT RECAP
UC San Diego rolled to a fourth consecutive CCAA Tournament title two weeks ago, doing so for the second straight year as the top-seeded host, to extend the program's record haul to 12 tourney banners in all. The Tritons routed No. 4 seed San Francisco State, 5-0, on Nov. 2 through five different goal-scorers, with Maddy Samilo providing a career-high four points from a goal and two assists. Mary Reilly and Natalie Saddic, the CCAA Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, each scored in the first half to give UC San Diego a 2-0 lead at the break. In Sunday's final, a rematch of last year's thriller, the Tritons trotted out to a 2-0 halftime lead over No. 3 seed Sonoma State thanks to a first career two-goal brace by Megumi Barber. Reilly added a third in the second half. UC San Diego was making an 18th CCAA Tournament appearance, more than any other current member, in its 19th season in the conference. The Tritons have now won nine straight league tourney games, by an aggregate score of 26-5. Barber was the Most Valuable Offensive Player, with Saddic repeating as the Most Valuable Defensive Player. Reilly, Samilo, Summer Bales and Kelsey Kimball also made the All-Tournament Team. UC San Diego has won the event all five times it has hosted it (2001, 2006, 2008, 2017, 2018). The Tritons are an undefeated 11-0-1 in CCAA finals, lifting the banner after all 12 appearances.
Eleven Tritons earned postseason recognition from the CCAA, led by Mary Reilly and Natalie Saddic sweeping the two main awards for CCAA Offensive Player of the Year and CCAA Defensive Player of the Year, respectively. Saddic is the league's first two-time defensive winner. Summer Bales joined them on the All-CCAA First Team, with Megumi Barber and Caitlin McCarthy earning second-team spots. Honorable mentions went to Michelle Baddour, Kelsey Kimball, Angelica Ramos, Marissa Ray, Maddy Samilo and Natalie Widmer. Eleven Tritons were also honored two years ago, after a perfect 12-0 league slate. Reilly will finish her great career a perfect four-for-four in All-CCAA First Team selections.
UC San Diego is an undefeated 30-0-1 over its last 31 home matches, dating back to a 1-0 defeat to then-sixth-ranked Colorado School of Mines on Sept. 11, 2016. The Tritons wound up 13-0-1 in La Jolla in 2017, and a perfect 11-0 in this campaign. They were winners of 19 straight at home ahead of a 1-1 draw with UC-Colorado Springs in last year's national quarterfinals, eliminated via penalty-kick tiebreaker. Thirteen marked UC San Diego's most home wins since going 15-1 in La Jolla in 2001 en route to winning its second straight Division II national title, at Triton Soccer Stadium. The other times the Tritons have completed a home season unbeaten in their Divison II era, were 2006 (11-0-1), 2002 (9-0-1) and 2000 (12-0). Around that 2016 meeting with Mines, UC San Diego is 38-0-2 in La Jolla since its last home loss to an unranked team, a 3-2 overtime defeat to Cal State San Bernardino on Sept. 20, 2015.
UC San Diego is 34-2-1 over its last 37 conference matches, and 45-2-2 in its last 49 against CCAA foes in all competitions. The Tritons were 28-0-1 in their last 29 CCAA games and 37-0-2 over the previous 39 contests against CCAA opposition, prior to the Oct. 3 loss at Cal State San Marcos. Both those streaks began after another 1-0 CCAA road loss, at Sonoma State, on Oct. 18, 2015. UC San Diego had won 23 straight league matches prior to a 1-1 draw at Cal State East Bay last Oct. 26, and 29 straight games against CCAA foes before a scoreless tie at Cal State San Marcos last Oct. 21. The Tritons held a 93-15 scoring advantage and trailed in only three of those 39 matches. In 2016, UC San Diego completed the league slate unbeaten and untied for the first time since joining the CCAA in 2000, at a perfect 12-0. It marked the first such effort by a CCAA squad since Sonoma State went 14-0 in 1998. The Tritons went on to win both of their CCAA Tournament games, 2-0 and 1-0, to give them a 14-0 mark against CCAA foes, outscoring them 35-2 during the regular season and 38-2 overall. UC San Diego followed that up with a 10-0-1 ledger in 2017 to become the first team in CCAA women's soccer history to post back-to-back unbeaten league slates. The 29-game run is a league record.
UC San Diego's 27-game (23-0-4) unbeaten run, a new record for its Division II history (since 2000), was one of several lengthy streaks snapped by the Tritons' 1-0 loss at Cal State San Marcos on Oct. 3. The overall streak had matched the all-time program standard, with a previous 27-gamer (24-0-3) from Oct. 12, 1992, through Nov. 7, 1993. Both those years ended in Division III third-place finishes.
ATOP THE POLL
UC San Diego ascended to the top of the United Soccer Coaches Division II national poll on Sept. 25. It marked the Tritons' first No. 1 ranking since Sept. 2, 2002. They held onto that spot for the Oct. 2 listing, before a road split moved them back down to No. 10. Triton great and current coach Kristin Jones was an All-American junior forward on that 2012 team, which began the year as the two-time defending Division II national champion. When UC San Diego lined up against Sonoma State on Sept. 28, it was the first time it had taken the field as the No. 1 team in the land, since Sept. 2, 2002, when the lone goal in a 1-0 season-opening home win over Tusculum (TN), came from Jones in the 71st minute. Reigning national champion Central Missouri had its 32-game win streak (perfect 26-0 for first crown last year) snapped at Missouri Western in St. Joseph, Mo., on Sept. 21, 1-0, moving then-undefeated UC San Diego up from No. 2.
Twice this season, including Oct. 16 for her two game-winners on the road, fourth-year senior striker Mary Reilly swept the United Soccer Coaches Division II national and CCAA Player of the Week awards. She has three of each for her career. The first one in 2018 came on Sept. 18 after Reilly's five-goal outburst in a pair of wins to open league play at home. Her four-goal effort (watch here) in the 6-1 romp over Cal State Monterey Bay on Sept. 14, matched her career high, and marked her top output at Triton Soccer Stadium, having previously hit for four as a freshman at Cal State Dominguez Hills on Oct. 2, 2015. The performance included a first-half hat trick in a span of just 19:27, and bumped Reilly up over former strike partner (2015-17) Katie O'Laughlin (37) as the program's all-time goals leader for its NCAA Division II era, since 2000. The Chula Vista product began the year tied for 11th on the all-time chart, and is now alone in fourth with 49 career tallies, while fifth in total points with 121. The milestone 40th was the opening winner in a 2-0 non-conference home defeat of Cal State San Marcos (9/22). Reilly leads the CCAA for a fourth straight year in shots (114), as well as in goals (16), points (36) and game-winning goals (seven). She has 46 more shots than partner Megumi Barber (68) in second. Reilly got up over 300 shots for her career in that CSUSM match, now at 381. Her 114 attempts this year is a career best.
SADDIC A STAR
Redshirt junior Natalie Saddic may not get the statistical recognition from her holding central midfield position, but the first-year Triton co-captain is again the anchor of the nationally-ranked team. The 2017 unanimous All-American finally came off the field for the first time in 2018, for the final 7:51 of the first half at Cal State San Marcos on Oct. 3. She has played 2055 out of 2110 minutes, and guided the team to 12 shutouts through 23 matches, including six in a row from Oct. 7-25. Offensively, Saddic helped set up both goals in a 2-0 home victory over city rival Cal State San Marcos (9/22), gaining credit for her first collegiate assist on the latter tally, and followed that up with her initial goal of 2018 to open the scoring in a 3-1 home win over Humboldt State (9/30). She provided the assist on the decisive goal in back-to-back home games on Oct. 19 and Oct. 21 with lengthy runs. Saddic added a goal and an assist in the CCAA Tournament, and another great assist in Sunday's national quarterfinal. Both postseason helpers have also come at the end of long dribbling runs, both to Mary Reilly. Saddic is fifth on the team's points chart with nine from two goals and a career-high five assists. She has started 62 consecutive matches for UC San Diego.
SUMMER THE PROVIDER
Fourth-year senior winger Summer Bales, a first-time co-captain in 2018, leads the CCAA in assists for a second straight season, alone at the top with her 10 helpers. That total eclipses the Temecula native's previous career best of seven from 2017. She has started the last 46 games in a row, going back to her first collegiate start in the 2016 West Region final in Golden, Colo. Bales has 25 career assists, the most of any current Triton.
Senior striker Megumi Barber was named the CCAA Player of the Week for the first time in her four-year career on Oct. 2. She provided assists on the Tritons' opening goals in back-to-back wins over No. 24 Sonoma State (9/28) and Humboldt State (9/30), before also scoring the late clincher in a 3-1 victory over the Jacks. Starting for the first time in her career, Barber has laid claim to some memorable, terrific goals for the Tritons. Of her 13 career tallies, six in a row had been right-footed strikes from distance, prior to a left-footed chip from inside the penalty area against HSU. Another pair of Barber's strikes were also from outside the penalty area, with the left-footed capper from the very edge of the 18 against Cal State LA (10/19), and a deflected right-footer from 25 yards at Stanislaus State (10/25). She collected her first collegiate two-goal brace in the CCAA final (11/4), with the second a 25-yard rocket that proved to be her first winner of 2018. She also notched the free-kick equalizer from just outside the penalty area, in the NCAA second-round contest on Nov. 10. A first career hat trick in Sunday's national quarterfinal gave Barber a career-best 11 scores on the year. Two days prior, her kick was the decider in the penalty-kick tiebreaker against Western Washington in the West Region final. Click here for the midfield strike at Division I Hawai'i (9/7), here for the free-kick banger against Cal State Monterey Bay (9/14), here for her incredible winner against Sonoma State (11/4), and here for her Point Loma free kick.
Between a pair of 1-0 road defeats in CCAA action, at Cal State San Marcos on Oct. 3 and Chico State on Oct. 27 to conclude the regular season, UC San Diego posted six straight wins, all in shutout fashion. The loss in San Marcos was the Tritons' first in over a full calendar year. The shutout streak stretched to 617:29. Four of those six contests were scoreless at halftime, with UC San Diego winners coming after the interval. The first three were thanks to Mary Reilly, the CCAA Offensive Player of the Year.
Sophomores Michelle Baddour, Alexis Kirson and transfer Mia Bonifazi, along with true freshmen Ashlynn Kolarik, Christina Oddone and Marissa Ray, have notched their first collegiate goals this season. Kolarik, Oddone and Ray have been joined by Sophia Bruno, Emily Killeen, Hana Law and Lucy Tang as true freshmen to play their first collegiate games. Bonifazi made her first Triton appearance in the opener.
The Tritons have used the exact same starting lineup in 21 of 23 contests, the lone exceptions being true freshmen Hana Law and Lucy Tang earning their first collegiate starts at right back and right midfield at Cal Poly Pomona (10/14) and at Chico State (10/27), respectively ... UC San Diego surrendered just 15 goals during the 27-game unbeaten run that ended earlier this season, with an own goal, penalty kick and free kick among them, and posted 14 shutouts ... The Tritons had come out on the right side of 17 straight one-goal decisions prior to the 1-0 loss at CSUSM on Oct. 3, finishing 12-1 in such games a year ago, and is at 11-2 this season ... The Tritons had nine 1-0 victories during their 27-game undefeated run, and have won 13 times with that score line since the start of the 2017 campaign, including six this year ... At the conclusion of a fourth-ever trip to Hawai'i, UC San Diego is an unbeaten 7-0-1 on O'ahu, outscoring opponents, 16-3 ... The Tritons' 2-1 victory at Hawai'i on Sept. 7 marked their first date with a Division I program in over two decades, since a 3-0 home win, also over UH on Oct. 19, 1997 ... Prior to the meeting with Hawai'i Hilo on Sept. 9, UC San Diego had last held an opponent without a single shot attempt in a 2-0 home decision over Cal State LA on Oct. 14, 2016 ... UC San Diego is 17-1-1 in season openers in its Division II era (since 2000), having suffered a lone defeat in 2014 at Seattle Pacific and outscored its opponents, 12-2, in four consecutive wins since ... The Tritons are 11-8 in CCAA openers, with three straight wins through comfortable decisions at Cal State San Marcos (4-0) in 2016, vs. Chico State (3-0) a year ago, and vs. CSUMB (6-1) on Sept. 14 ... Now-three-time reigning CCAA regular-season champion UC San Diego was again the preseason favorite to retain its crown, with 136 points and seven first-place votes.
UC San Diego's 29-player 2018 roster has just three seniors in fourth-year team members Summer Bales, Megumi Barber and Mary Reilly ... Kelsey Kimball and Angelica Ramos are both listed as redshirt juniors, also in their fourth year out of high school, and were recognized on Senior Day, but have one season of eligibility remaining ... Bales and Natalie Saddic are first-time team co-captains in 2018 ... Thirteen newcomers have joined the program, including 12 true freshmen ... Seven players are from San Diego, in Saddic (San Diego/Torrey Pines HS), Michelle Baddour (San Diego/University City HS), Megumi Barber (San Diego/Mt. Carmel HS), Caitlin McCarthy (Carlsbad/Carlsbad HS), Christina Oddone (Carlsbad/Carlsbad HS), Mary Reilly (Chula Vista/Hilltop HS) and Maddy Samilo (Rancho Bernardo/Rancho Bernardo HS) ... Sophomore forwards Mia Bonifazi (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) and Alexis Kirson (Las Vegas, Nev.) are the only two Tritons from outside of California ... Kristin Jones (Oceanside HS), a two-time national champion and two-time All-American as one of the greatest players to ever come through the storied UC San Diego program, is in her 19th straight season as a Triton player or coach.
CCAA TOURNAMENT IN LA JOLLA AGAIN
UC San Diego was the proud host of the 2018 CCAA Tournament semifinals and finals for the second consecutive year and fifth time in all. Two women's and two men's semifinals were contested at Triton Soccer Stadium on Friday, Nov. 2, with the two finals on Sunday, Nov. 4. In all five instances that UC San Diego has served as the host, the Triton women have won the event, in 2001, 2006, 2008, 2017, and now 2018. The women's champion once again earned the CCAA's automatic berth into the NCAA Championship.
2018 SEASON OUTLOOK
UC San Diego is led offensively and defensively by Mary Reilly (Chula Vista/Hilltop HS) and Natalie Saddic (San Diego/Torrey Pines HS), respectively. Reilly began a fourth and final season up top with 33 career goals, and as the CCAA's shots leader by a wide margin in each of her first three years. Saddic is back at holding central midfielder after a rash of injuries forced her to center back for the 2017 postseason. The third-year transfer from UC Davis was a unanimous All-American, and the CCAA Defensive Player of the Year and CCAA Tournament Most Valuable Defensive Player last fall. Joining Reilly as fourth-year Tritons are winger Summer Bales, forward Megumi Barber (San Diego/Mt. Carmel HS), and Kelsey Kimball, who takes over at center back after sitting out the entire 2017 season through injury. Barber is Reilly's new strike partner. True sophomores Delaney Whittet and Natalie Widmer return around Kimball at left and right back, respectively. Redshirt junior goalkeeper Angelica Ramos, the 2017 CCAA Newcomer of the Year, also is back from injury, with sophomore Katie Wilkes having taken over for the three NCAA Championship matches last November after Ramos left the CCAA final with a season-ending injury. Caitlin McCarthy (Carlsbad/Carlsbad HS) remains in central midfield, with fellow true sophomores and locals Michelle Baddour (San Diego/University City HS) and Maddy Samilo (Rancho Bernardo/Rancho Bernardo HS) slotting into the starting spots in central midfield and on the right wing, respectively. Baddour has taken over the No. 10 shirt.
UC San Diego went 17-2-3 overall and an unbeaten 10-0-1 in the CCAA a year ago. The season ended with a 17-game undefeated streak (14-0-3) as the Tritons played to a 1-1 home draw with UC-Colorado Springs in the national quarterfinals, and were eliminated via penalty-kick tiebreaker. That was after a second successive showdown with Western Washington in the West Region final, this one going to UC San Diego in front of the home crowd, 2-0, to complete its treble. The regular-season champion Tritons won the CCAA Tournament for a third straight and record 11th time, as the top-seeded host. Sonoma State was the opponent in a thrilling final, which UC San Diego rallied to take 4-3 thanks to Natalie Saddic's headed goal with 34 seconds left.
ABOUT THE PURPLE KNIGHTS
No. 17 Bridgeport (18-4-1, 8-1 ECC) is a winner of seven straight games, and like UC San Diego, is a treble champion of its regional, league regular-season and league tournament titles. The Purple Knights are members of the East Coast Conference (ECC). Junior England native Maegen Doyle leads with 57 total points from 27 goals and three assists, including 13 game-winners, tied for first nationally. Bridgeport ranks sixth in Division II with its 67 goals scored. Jennifer Wendelius (1.03 GAA, 103 saves), a senior from Lidingo, Sweden, has played every minute in net and posted 10 individual clean sheets. Eighteen of the 30 players on the Bridgeport roster hail from other countries. Magnus Nilerud, himself a native of Sweden, is in his 20th season in charge of his alma mater. He led the Purple Knights to a first semifinal appearance back in 2015.
Thursday will mark the very first meeting between UC San Diego and Bridgeport.
HALL OF FAME INDUCTION
During UC San Diego Homecoming weekend, Oct. 19-21, all-time leading scorer Heather (Mauro) Hilliard (1986-89) was inducted into the UC San Diego Athletics Hall of Fame. She is the third member of the women's soccer program to be so honored, after Ele Johnson (Class of 2013) and Julia Cuder (2014).
On Nov. 27, 2017, UC San Diego was officially invited to become a member of the NCAA Division I Big West Conference. The Tritons will begin a four-year reclassification period starting in the fall of 2020. They will play a full Big West schedule that season and will be eligible for the NCAA Championship in men's volleyball, men's and women's water polo, and fencing. For the 2024-25 academic year, all sports will be eligible to compete in Big West and NCAA Division I championships. Read the full press release here.
For the latest in Triton athletic gear, make sure to visit ucsdtritonsgear.com. Run by UCSD Athletics' online partner Advanced-Online, the site provides an on-demand option for Triton athletic apparel and merchandise. Fans have access to over 600 products that can be processed and shipped within 24 hours.
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UC San Diego Athletics on Twitter (@UCSDtritons)
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NEW! UC San Diego Women's Soccer on Instagram (@ucsdwsoc)
The two teams advancing out of Thursday will remain in Pittsburgh, Pa., for the national championship game this Saturday, Dec. 1. Kickoff at Highmark Stadium is set for 12 p.m. PT (3 p.m. ET). The match will be broadcast on NCAA.com.
About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country. The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in summer 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference. UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's preeminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent. A total of 80 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 36 have earned prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.
Follow the Tritons
For complete coverage and information regarding UC San Diego Athletics, follow the Tritons online at UCSDtritons.com and through social media on Twitter (@UCSDtritons), Instagram (@ucsdtritons) and Facebook (UCSDtritons). For more information on UC San Diego Women's Soccer, follow on Instagram (@ucsdwsoc).