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.
11/30/12 - TIME FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP - The fifth-ranked UC San Diego women's soccer team takes on No. 2 West Florida for the 2012 NCAA Division II women's soccer championship on Saturday, Dec. 1 Kickoff at Blanchard Woods Park in Evans, Ga., is scheduled for 12 p.m. PT. A full webcast is available live at NCAA.com.
The Tritons trained for a little over an hour at a soccer complex near their hotel early Friday afternoon. The session served as one final practice for the UCSD seniors. After lunch, Kelcie Brodsky, Itzel Gonzalez, Maile Nilsson and Melisa Tallisparticipated in a community service outing organized by the NCAA with four student-athletes from each of the four remaining participants in Georgia, with the two men's finalists included. The girls helped sort and package donated goods for the Golden Harvest Food Bank, to then be distributed among those less fortunate.
"Being at this community service project with my teammates was a lot of fun," said Nilsson. "It was a good experience. I've never participated in community service like this before. It was cool to be here with the other teams. I think it's really great that the NCAA has us do this kind of an event close to the holiday season.
"I'm so happy to be a part of this," added the San Diego native out of The Preuss School on campus about being at the final four as a true freshman. "I love being here and being able to support the seniors and all the upperclassmen in what they are doing out on the field. It's awesome. I hope I get to be a part of this again in my career."
Later in the day, some of the Tritons went to the movies, some to see Wreck-It Ralph and a couple of others for the Twilight finale. The rest of the ladies stayed around the hotel to rest, or, as the life of a student-athlete would have it, study. Even tonight with a final of an athletic nature tomorrow, UCSD players were taking exams and writing essays.
The Tritons had dinner at an Italian restaurant with the families and friends that have made the trip also largely present. This squad is always well-supported on the road, with the U-C! S-D! "anthem" an unmistakable staple of each and every venue.
Some news and notes looking back on Thursday's semifinal triumph over Grand Valley State and ahead to Saturday's title match.
* * *
The word revenge is not something typically to be associated with collegiate athletics, but we can certainly call it redemption. Two years ago, UCSD dropped a 4-0 decision to Grand Valley State in the national championship game in Louisville, Ky. Call it cold, call it snow, call it whatever. It was not like the Tritons, and more than one player who was on the field that day termed it "embarrassing" during the lead-up to this week.
Consider that since the start of the 2001 season, UCSD has gone 197-39-24, for a winning percentage of .804. Of those 39 losses, 30 were by just a single goal, with seven by two-goal margins, one on penalty kicks, and that lone lopsided result against GVSU.
Thursday night here in Georgia, the Tritons made it right, dominating the first 45 minutes and striking twice within the next 15 before the final score was ultimately more indicative of a close affair at 2-1.
Redemption? You bet.
"I think it showed on the field, definitely in the first half," said senior tri-captain Gabi Hernandez about how focused they were on overturning what transpired two years ago. "We came out so strong. We came out with a fire. We were just going after them. We were connecting our passes so well. We showed through soccer that we wanted this badly. Really badly."
* * *
UCSD and West Florida will meet for the first time on Saturday. The second-ranked Argonauts, from Pensacola, Fla., are champions of the Gulf South Conference (GSC) and sport an overall record of 23-1. While the Tritons take a nine-game unbeaten streak into Saturday with a record of 7-0-2 during this stretch, UWF is a winner of 12 straight. The Argos needed 90 minutes of regulation and 10:33 of one-plus overtime period to dispatch defending national champion Saint Rose in Thursday's late semifinal, 2-1. Leading scorer Chelsea Palmer (15 G, 19 A) notched the winner from the penalty spot after setting up the opener. The junior forward has scored or assisted on eight of the nine goals the Argos have scored in this NCAA run.
UWF is making its 11th NCAA Division II Championship appearance and has posted a 13-8-3 mark in this tournament all-time. The Argos lost to Seattle Pacific, 1-0 in double overtime, in the 2008 final and placed third the following season. Saturday will thus mark their second championship game as the program searches for a first national crown.
West Florida will be UCSD's sixth nationally-ranked opponent over its last seven games in this 2012 postseason. The Tritons are 3-1-3 against such foes, an undefeated 11-0-3 still outside of La Jolla, 15-0-2 when scoring first and 13-0 when tallying at least two goals this year.
Q-When you walked off the field against GVSU in 2010, did you believe that you would get this second chance at a national title?
GH-You always want to believe it, but it seems so distant when you're starting a season. At the beginning of this season, I didn't know what was going to happen. I didn't know if we were going to make it here, but as the season progressed, I realized the talent that we had. Coming back here is a gift. We're so excited.
Q-Was it a relief was to win in regulation for once? Did you think, ‘here we go again' late as GVSU pressured for a tying goal?
GH-Yeah. That was definitely a thought that went through my head, but I knew our defense was going to be fine. Nobody wants to go overtime. We did almost everything that we set out to do (in the game). We didn't go into overtime. We finished the game in 90 minutes. We wanted to score the first and second goal. Unfortunately, we forgot to say we don't want to let them score, but we did everything we wanted, and I'm so proud of the defense for keeping everyone out of the back.
GH-Amazing. Ellen (Wilson) and I actually talked about this once, that the younger players don't feel I guess maybe as much pressure as the seniors to win, and they came up so strong for us. They made this game possible. They were in the right place at the right time. They were doing everything they were supposed to do. They've grown so much as players and they made that game for us.
Q-Knowing that your college career will be over in 24 hours, what kind of emotions are you going through right now?
GH-Kind of excited, just for this game. Sad that it's ending, but so happy for all the memories. But so, so excited to see what happens. Just like I was for the last (title) game (in 2010), but the difference between this game and when we were in Kentucky two years ago is instead of being nervous, I'm excited. We're all new players. We're all so different from where we were two years ago. We're so much more confident this time around, and we just want to play.
* * *
It's usually pretty rare to see goals within the first minute of a period in soccer. The Tritons twice in just this postseason alone, have accomplished that feat, each in similar fashion with right-footed shots from distance after left-sided build-ups. Against Sonoma State in the CCAA Championship final on Nov. 4, Gabi Hernandez took a feed from Alexa Enlow and scored 24 seconds into the second half en route to UCSD winning its first conference title since 2008. Thursday night in the semifinals against GVSU, Enlow and Hernandez, along with Izzy Pozurama in between, all helped set up Cassie Callahanfor the game's opening goal at 45:28.
* * *
Just hours before guiding the Tritons through the national semifinal last night, Ellen Wilson, Hayley Johnson and Cassie Callahan added Daktronics All-America honors to their Academic All-America recognition from the day before, making the first, second and third team, respectively. Jessica Wi earned Daktronics All-America honorable mention. Click here. The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) will announce its year-end awards in the coming days.
Finally, please be sure to view Triton senior tri-captains Gabi Hernandez, Hayley Johnson and Ellen Wilson's entertaining review of Wednesday night's championship banquet. We promise that Ellen is the only communication major among the three. Click here, and then look for them at a comedy club near you.
* * *
Once more, Kyle Binder is on the call for the free NCAA.com webcast Saturday, beginning at 12 p.m. PT, with live stats also available. The men's final between Lynn University of Boca Raton, Fla., and Saginaw (Mich.) Valley State University kicks off the action at 9 a.m. PT from Blanchard Woods Park.
UCSD is just 90 minutes away now from an eighth national title. Here's to it. Go Tritons!
11/28/12 - Post NCAA Banquet Recap
The UCSD players are in their hotel rooms in Augusta, at press time
less than 14 hours from kickoff of its national semifinal. The Tritons
trained for 75 minutes early Wednesday afternoon at the venue, Blanchard
Woods Park in Evans. An expansive complex of multiple fields tucked in
between trees all around, UCSD put the finishing touches on its
preparations for GVSU on one of the practice fields.
After a brief stop at the hotel and a lunch outing, the Tritons went
back to resting up in their rooms. The group left shortly after 6 p.m.
for the NCAA Championship banquet, which was over by 8:30 p.m. Former
University of South Carolina, Major League Soccer and U.S. Men's
National Team standout Clint Mathis, a Georgia native, was the speaker
following a catered meal for all eight teams in attendance. Watch the
Triton tri-captains' official critique of the event here.
Mercyhurst of Erie, Pa., and Lynn of Boca Raton, Fla., contest the
first men's semifinal at 8 a.m. PT Thursday, with first-time Canadian
representative Simon Fraser, the champions of the West Region, taking on
Michigan's Saginaw Valley State in the other men's semi at 11 a.m.
After UCSD and GVSU take the field at 2 p.m. PT on the women's side,
West Florida will cap the day against defending national champion Saint
Rose of Albany, N.Y., at 5 p.m. PT.
The latest weather forecast for Evans Thursday calls for sun with a
high of 63 degrees. Of course, it will be dark when the Tritons and
Lakers kick off at 5 p.m. local time, but the weather will still be a
very far cry from the high 20s with snow from the 2010 meeting. UCSD
expects the result to be drastically different as well.
* * *
Tale of the Tape: When Last We Met...
There are certainly other items to be compared besides the weather,
from when UCSD and GVSU met for the 2010 national title in Louisville,
Ky., resulting in a 4-0 Laker victory. UCSD was 19-2-3 and ranked 12th
back then. The Tritons are 16-2-4 and ranked fifth now. GVSU was 21-1-2
and rated fifth. The Lakers are 20-1-3 and third at the moment. Both
teams had four starters that day who are still with the team this
season, with Danielle Dixon, Hayley Johnson, Jessica Wi and Ellen Wilson
the foursome for the Tritons, and starting goalkeeper Chelsea Parise,
Ashley Botts, Kayla Addison and Alyssa Mira for GVSU. Assistant coach Sarah McTigue also started for UCSD that day, while Gabi Hernandez and Rachel Leslie appeared off the bench.
The Tritons have lost just five of 42 matches since that title tilt, all by a single goal.
Q-How do you feel about being at your first final four?
IP-It's really exciting. At the hotel, we see NCAA posters everywhere
and we see the other teams in the hotel as well. We've already done
activities, like going to Adventure Crossing with the other teams
(Tuesday night). I already feel like it's an important event.
I do feel the pressure building up. Tomorrow's our game, and if we
lose (our season is) done. We've gotten this close. We just need to win
two more games and we have a national championship. I am feeling nerves,
but I feel confident that we can play our game and win tomorrow to go
to the final.
Q-Describe carrying your team through the month of October with eight goals.
IP-I didn't score for the first half of the season. It kind of did
bug me, but once I scored my first goal, I kind of just set off from
there. I felt all the pressure go off my shoulders, and it became easier
to score those few games. I haven't scored since the (postseason)
began, and I don't feel that it bugs me now. I have been contributing in
other ways. The past two games, against Western Washington and Mines, I
had a few opportunities that I should have put away, and it would have
made the game a lot easier. Now that we're in the final four, I'm only
going to get a few chances to score. Whenever we get an opportunity,
it's pretty necessary to put that goal away.
Q-After a quiet CCAA Championship, how gratifying was it to set up
the goal (OT vs. WWU) that moved your team into the NCAA Quarterfinals?
IP-That was the game where I missed three (earlier) opportunities and it really got to my head, but Jonesy (assistant coach Kristin Jones)
gave me a little pep talk before overtime. I didn't expect to go in for
the overtime. I came off at the end of (regulation). (Kristin) told me
she was putting me back in, because she felt confident that I could keep
my composure and do something great for the team. It was (less than one
minute) in. I got the ball. It was at the top of the 18, so I could
have shot it, but I saw Jess Wi run down the line so I played it to her.
She played it to Gabi (Hernandez) and Gabi scored.
Q-Do you starting underclassmen feel any pressure to win this title for your exceptional senior class?
IP-Yeah, it's a lot of seniors (10), and for them, it's their last
opportunity to win a championship. Who knows? Next year, maybe I might
not be able to, either. Now that we're here, we made it this far, so
it's really important to achieve our goal and win a national
championship. It's been a while since our school has gotten one, and we
want to get that eighth star on our patch.
Q-How do you think things will go on Thursday against GVSU?
IP-We just have to take advantage of our opportunities. If we play
our own game, we don't need to worry about Grand Valley. We don't really
know much about them. We just need to focus on ourselves and make sure
that we come out strong and playing our own game.
* * *
The 2012 postseason honors continue to roll in, with the Tritons
habitually well-represented on both the athletic and academic fronts. Cassie Callahan, Hayley Johnson and Ellen Wilson earned the important distinction Wednesday of being named Academic All-Americans. Read more about it here.
* * *
UCSD is deservedly gaining some publicity over these past couple of
weeks. Most recently, the U-T San Diego profiled Coronado product Cassie Callahan (click here), while Hayley Johnson was the focus of her hometown newspaper, Santa Rosa's Press Democrat (click here),
as both publications previewed Thursday's semifinal. The Sports Page,
the U-T's 30-minute daily live online show, also spoke with Brian McManus, Britnee Chesney and Gabi Hernandez in profiling the great women's soccer tradition at UCSD (click here).
* * *
A reminder that if you aren't already here with us in Georgia or on
your way, to please support the Tritons from the home or office at 2
p.m. PT on Thursday. Kyle Binder will provide the commentary for the
free NCAA.com webcast, with live stats also available.
11/27/12 - TRITONS ARRIVE IN GEORGIA - The
fifth-ranked UC San Diego women’s soccer team is in Augusta, Ga., awaiting its
national semifinal match-up with No. 3 Grand Valley State on Thursday, Nov. 29,
at 2 p.m. PT.
news and notes after a lengthy travel day and UCSD’s first training session in
Tritons, again with 22 student-athletes and six coaches and staff, got together
at North Campus at 8:50 a.m. on Monday morning, Nov. 26. Nearly 12 hours later
as midnight approached in the Eastern time zone, they had checked into the
Holiday Inn in Augusta, headquarters for all four women’s teams competing in
the NCAA Semifinals this week.
between, UCSD flew four and a half hours to Charlotte, N.C., and following a
one-hour layover, connected on to Savannah, Ga., for another hour. Still not at
the final destination, the Tritons drove through largely dark and empty Georgia
countryside for about two more hours north up the Georgia-South Carolina border
holding their first training session here at a local park on Tuesday afternoon,
the Tritons enjoyed lunch at a favorite spot and rested in their rooms. The evening
featured a social activity put on by our hosts this week, the Peach Belt
Conference, as the student-athletes from all four men’s and four women’s
championship participants gathered at Adventure Crossing nearby for laser tag,
go-kart racing, miniature golf, arcade games and food.
will see UCSD go through its first and only official training session at the actual
event facility, Blanchard Woods Park in Evans, Ga., ahead of Thursday’s
semifinal. Brian McManus will have one hour and 15 minutes with his squad to
finalize preparations for a familiar foe in Michigan’s Grand Valley State. The
championship banquet awaits at night.
Insider with Casey Parisi
Q-How was your Thanksgiving?
was good. My family was able to come down (from Northern California). It was
comforting to see them. Having a short little break between soccer practices
was really nice.
Q-Walk us through how you wound up going
from Santa Rosa all the way to New Jersey Institute of Technology, and then
back across coasts to UCSD.
New Jersey offered me a good deal and it was Division I soccer, so I was
thinking it was going to be a good experience, but I ended up missing home and
my family too much. I decided to move back to my home state, and Brian (McManus)
was nice enough to let me come on the team, and so I’m really thankful that I’m
to Brian my senior year of high school, and things just didn’t work out
timing-wise. It was kind of just bad luck, so I went to New Jersey, but then when
I wanted to come back home, I talked to Brian again, and he helped me figure
out what I needed to do to get into school.
didn’t turn out the way I’d liked. It was a nice wake-up call, knowing that
it’s not always the best to go to a higher division, because the experience I’m
having here is such a great one. There is nothing that could replace this
experience at UCSD.
Q-How have you enjoyed your time in La
Jolla so far?
such a close team. We do everything together. It’s not exactly what I’d had in
the past, so it‘s a really nice feeling. Just the camaraderie we have. Everyone
cares for each other. Everyone’s there for each other. It’s something that I
couldn’t have imagined having at this point in my life. It’s a great
Q-How much pressure did you feel, if any,
taking that sixth penalty kick against Colorado Mines with the season on the
started hearing the crowd from Mines chanting. I took my time walking up to the
(penalty spot) so I could focus my head. We take (penalty kicks in practice). I
know what side I’m going to. I know that I can beat the goalie. When I was
walking up, I just made sure that my mind was right. I focused not on the
crowd, but on the penalty kick itself, and I knew that it was a must. I had to
make it, and knowing that I needed to do that for the team, was enough to get
me through it.
Q-What are your expectations for this week
excited. It’s such a unique experience that you get. I never imagined going to
the final four before, so I’m looking forward to experiencing it with my team,
and just being in an atmosphere that’s so hyped up about soccer. It’s going to
* * *
Ellen Wilson celebrated a birthday on the Tritons’ travel
day to Georgia on Monday. When she and fellow senior tri-captain Hayley Johnson
line up against Grand Valley State this Thursday, with Ellen at center back and
Hayley to her left as it’s been since day one, it will mark a 90th consecutive
start for each player for their illustrious Triton careers. UCSD has played 89
games since the 2009 season opener. Remarkably, Ellen and Hayley have started
all 89 of them. As the conference’s Most Valuable Defensive Player, Ellen has
played every minute of every match during her final season of college soccer.
Meanwhile, look for a feature story on Hayley in her hometown newspaper, Santa
Rosa’s Press Democrat, on Thursday.
* * *
Having arrived in Georgia late Monday to mild, friendly
conditions, the Tritons awoke Tuesday to rain, said to be the first in the area
in three weeks. It stayed dry enough for UCSD’s training and the evening
outing. The outlook for the weather here for the remainder of the week remains
very positive, with temperatures expected to be in the mid-60s under sunny
skies for the next three days.
* * *
Augusta, where UCSD is staying this week, is perhaps most
famous for being the home of Augusta National Golf Club. The private club hosts
The Masters tournament in early April each year as the first of four majors in
professional golf. The 2012 NCAA Division II Women’s Soccer Championship will
take place, however, in Evans, which is approximately another nine miles north
* * *
With this being the final round of this tournament, the NCAA
takes it from here in terms of broadcast rights. Meaning, all games in Georgia
this week will have a live webcast produced by the NCAA at NCAA.com, in
addition to live stats.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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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.
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.
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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.
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.
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 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 --
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