The 2012 UC San Diego women's soccer team is aiming for its eighth NCAA national championship, and you can join us every step of the way. Each day, we will post something of interest from the road. Check back daily to catch up on how the team is doing at the NCAA Championship.
11/17/12 - EVE OF FINAL HURDLE IN DENVER - The fifth-ranked UC San Diego women's soccer team is just hours away from taking on No. 15 Colorado Mines for a trip to Evans, Ga., for the NCAA Semifinals. The quarterfinal affair between the West Region champion Tritons and South Central Region champion Orediggers will kick off at 11 a.m. PT on Sunday, Nov. 18, at Auraria Field in Denver.
Some news and notes on the eve of Sunday's NCAA Quarterfinals.
* * *
Sunday's match will serve as the first meeting all-time between UC San Diego and Colorado School of Mines in women's soccer. Colorado Mines is located in Golden, Colo., a little over 14 miles west of Denver. The Orediggers had a sizeable contingent on hand for Friday's win over host Metro State, and so Sunday's atmosphere should be considerably different for UCSD than that against WWU. Colorado Mines, like Western Washington, plays its home games on FieldTurf. With the South Central Region serving as host this weekend, the Tritons are the designated visitors Sunday.
* * *
Colorado Mines Scouting Report
Colorado Mines (18-4-1) has won six straight and is unbeaten over its last 13, since a 1-0 regular-season loss to Metro State at Auraria Field back on Sept. 30. The 15th-ranked Orediggers are in the NCAA Quarterfinals for the second straight year and third time in the past four seasons.
The goal CSM allowed at 87:45 to Metro State during Friday's 2-1 Third Round victory was the first it had given up in over 584 minutes, a span of more than five matches, and marked the first goal scored against them this postseason, encompassing the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) Tournament and NCAA Championship. The Orediggers were automatic NCAA qualifiers as the 2012 RMAC champions. CSM's two leading scorers, junior forward Anna Evans (17 G, 10 A, RMAC Offensive Player of the Year) and senior midfielder Megan Woodworth (11 G, 13 A, All-RMAC First Team), accounted for the two strikes against Metro State.
UCSD has not met an RMAC team since dropping a 2-0 decision to Metro State in Denver in the 2006 NCAA Quarterfinals (Nov. 11, 2006). Colorado Mines is 10-3 away from home this year.
* * *
The Tritons are not the only San Diego exports in town, as the NFL's San Diego Chargers are also currently in Denver. They face a critical AFC West clash with the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday. Kickoff is set for 2:25 p.m. local time here, with the stadium located just across the freeway from Auraria Field. UCSD will kick off against Colorado Mines at 12 p.m. local (11 a.m. PT).
* * *
NCAA Insider with Michelle Yasutake
Q-How do you feel about still being in this tournament?
MY-Yesterday's game was a little stressful, obviously, but we were dominating, and I knew we would pull it out. I think that we can go all the way. We have a good chance to keep going, and I'm really excited to keep playing.
Q-Is this what you expected out of your first true season of college soccer, as the starter at right back?
MY-I honestly didn't expect that to happen at all. I came on to the team just wanting to make it again this year (after redshirting in 2011), so starting was a pretty big surprise, actually, the first time (Brian) announced the lineup. It's been cool, though.
Q-Has it helped you to be the third starter on a defense consisting of Hayley Johnson and Ellen Wilson, who have each started every game in four years?
MY-It was a little intimidating at first, but they're so confident in everything they do, I know they'll have my back. Any time I get beat, I know that Ellen will be there (as the center back). They're solid players and it's great to play with them.
Q-How do you feel about playing right back?
MY-I'm actually left-footed, so the right side of the field, I've never really played there before. It was definitely a transition. (I've) always (played) outside back, but usually on the left. I've definitely had to improve my right foot a little bit, playing on this side. It's just kind of awkward, being on the other side of the field.
* * *
In case you missed them late Friday after the win over Western Washington, postgame video interviews with Brian McManus and Gabi Hernandez can be found here, with postgame quotes here.
* * *
The women's soccer team will not be the only Triton squad in search of a Final Four berth on Sunday. UCSD's water polo men are up against Air Force at 2:15 p.m. PT in Whittier in the final of the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) Championship. Best of luck to 33rd-year head coach Denny Harper and his guys. Click here to watch.
* * *
Sunday's match against Colorado Mines will feature both a live video stream, with audio commentary provided by Eric Lansing, media producer for Metro State Athletics, as well as live stats.
Only one more hurdle to clear on the Road to Georgia. Go Tritons!
11/15/12 - DENVER PRACTICE DAY - The fifth-ranked UC San Diego women's soccer team went through its final practice, a one-hour session on Thursday afternoon, prior to its NCAA Third Round match. The Tritons are now set to take on No. 23 Western Washington for the West Region crown on Friday, Nov. 16. Kickoff at Metro State's Auraria Field is slated for 12:30 p.m. PT. The host Roadrunners play No. 15 Colorado Mines first at 10 a.m. PT, with the winners facing off on Sunday at 11 a.m. PT.
Some news and notes on the practice day and meeting with Western Washington.
* * *
Friday's affair will mark the sixth all-time meeting between UCSD and Western Washington, and first since a scoreless draw in both teams' 2011 season opener in Bellingham, Wash. In the four previous meetings, the Tritons outscored the Vikings, 12-1, over four wins. Three of those games were in La Jolla, including a 4-0 UCSD triumph on Nov. 2, 2006, the only prior NCAA postseason match-up.
* * *
UCSD is 4-1-3 in overtime games this season, while Western Washington is only just coming off its first two overtime affairs of the year. The Vikings knocked off Cal Poly Pomona and Sonoma State in double overtime, both by 2-1 scores, in the NCAA First and Second Round, respectively, in Rohnert Park last weekend. They had gotten through the first 20 games of their 2012 slate without playing any extra soccer.
* * *
NCAA Insider with Danielle Dixon
Q-What ideally would Brian like to see out of you in the center of midfield?
DD-My main role is distributor, to switch the field. Brian puts a lot of emphasis on making sure the ball quickly gets from side to side, so we can counter-attack. That's probably my main goal in each game, is to get the correct through balls out to the wings, so we can get crosses in (to the penalty box).
Q-What is the camaraderie like within your senior class?
DD-There's a big group of us who are all seniors, and we are extremely close. We're like a family. We've been playing together for so long, that we know each other's style really well, and we work great together both on the field and off the field. Making it to the end (NCAA title) would be a really big deal for us. I really think that we're capable of doing it, and just knowing each other so well, I think that it makes us stronger as a team. We have a lead over other teams. We know what to expect on the field.
Q-How did it feel to finally win a conference championship this year?
DD-That was really important to our team. It was a big game-changer, just because we've never had the chance to win it since I've been here. It was a stepping stone for us. We really wanted to prove to ourselves that we could do it, so it definitely gave us a lot of confidence going into the NCAA tournament now.
Q-What are your expectations here in Denver this weekend?
DD-I am going in very confident. I like our chances. Last weekend went well for us, so we're going in strong and confident. We've played Western Washington before and did really well against them. It's going to be nice to know their style of play and be able to pick out certain things to watch for during the game.
* * *
Western Washington is an even 2-2 against ranked foes, 11-2 away from home, and 2-1 against California Collegiate Athletic Association opponents in 2012. UCSD is 1-1-2 against ranked sides, an undefeated 9-0-2 outside of La Jolla and a perfect 2-0 against Great Northwest Athletic Conference teams this season. The Tritons thumped Central Washington at home, 6-1, to begin the year and edged Seattle Pacific, 2-1, also at home in the NCAA Second Round last Saturday night.
Friday will be UCSD's first test outside of California since it began the 2011 season in the state of Washington at Western Washington (0-0 tie) and Seattle Pacific (2-0 win). The Tritons have not suffered an out-of-state loss since dropping the 2010 NCAA final, 4-0, to Grand Valley State in Louisville, Ky.
* * *
Field Facts: Metro State's Auraria Field has dimensions of 120 yards long and 75 yards wide. By comparison, Triton Soccer Stadium is 112 yards long and 72 yards wide. Perhaps more important is that Auraria Field, like Triton Soccer Stadium, is natural grass. Western Washington plays its home schedule at Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash., on FieldTurf. What, if any, part these factors may play on Friday's NCAA Third Round match, remains to be seen.
* * *
Scouting Report with Brian McManus
On the team atmosphere following Thursday's training:
BM-The atmosphere is good right now. We've not got any major injuries or anything. They're practicing well. They seem quite sharp. There are no bad teams that get to this stage, so we just go out, we give it everything we've got and take it from there.
On breaking down a WWU defense that has only allowed seven goals in 2012:
BM-Keeping control of the ball. Not trying to push it. Not over-hit things, but just try to set the right shots up. Do the right things and not snatch at things. Set the good plays, the good shots.
On his team's undefeated road record thus far this season:
BM-We've been great on the road this year, and hopefully that will continue. As long as we keep doing the right things, we'll be in good shape tomorrow.
* * *
In his 26th season in charge of the UCSD women's soccer program, Brian McManus has compiled 432 wins. In the event the Tritons knock off Western Washington on Friday afternoon to give McManus his 433rd career victory, he would become the all-time wins leader in NCAA Division II soccer. He is currently tied atop the list with Gabe Mejail of Merrimack College (MA). All-time regardless of division or active status, McManus ranks in a tie with Mejail for fourth. The two are only behind long-time UNC manager Anson Dorrance (739), UConn's Len Tsantiris (500) and Aliceann Wilber of William Smith (457).
* * *
The U-T TV report on the success of San Diego collegiate women's soccer programs this season was aired today. You can watch it by clicking here.
* * *
Friday's match against Western Washington will feature both live video and live stats.
11/14/12 - DENVER TRAVEL DAY - 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.
* * *
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.
* * *
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.
* * *
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.
* * *
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.
* * *
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.
* * *
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.
* * *
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 UTTV.com. 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!
-- UCSDtritons.com --