The loss marks the Tritons first loss in regulation since September 17 and they will finish the year with a 19-3-3 overall record, their best mark since the squad finished 20-2-2 in 2006. GVSU (22-1-2) becomes the first team to repeat as Division II national champions since UCSD accomplished the feat in 2001 and 2002.
With kickoff delayed by an hour due to rain and snow, the weather played a critical role throughout the match as both teams struggled to adjust to the slippery, slushy surface.
Goalkeeper Krisin Armstrong nearly fell victim to the conditions on GVSU's first shot on goal, as a harmless attempt nearly beat her five-hole after the ball squirted through her gloves.
UCSD forward Annette Ilg nearly capitalized on the wet conditions in the 10th minute when a pass back to Grand Valley left-back Megan Brown slipped off her foot, leaving Ilg one-on-one with GVSU goalkeeper, Chelsea Parise. Ilg transferred the ball to her left foot and attempted to tuck the ball into the back post, but Parise deflected the shot with her shin out of bounds for a corner kick.
Grand Valley would open the scoring in the 21st minute as Kayla Addison collected the ball in the middle of the field with her back towards goal, dribbling it to the right edge of the box. The Tritons failed to close down on the Lakers' leading goal scorer and she floated a pass to the penalty spot for Erin Mruz. The forward met the ball in the air, volleying home the shot with the inside of her right foot past the outstretched arms of Armstrong.
The conditions nearly gifted the Tritons the tying score minutes later, as Jessica Wi got off a shot from about 30 yards out. However, the ball took an awkward skip off the turf, fooling Parise before ricocheting off the post.
In the 38th minute, the Lakers would make it 2-0 after Brown earned a corner kick after a long ball took another weird skip over UCSD sweeper, Ellen Wilson. Brown scored directly off the dead ball, looping the service over the head of Armstrong and above the head of Hayley Johnson who was protecting the far post. It marked Brown's first goal of the season and the first time the Tritons had given up a two goals in the first half in 2010.
"They cashed in on some opportunities in the first half. When you are chasing a two-goal defecit you open yourself up a bit," said UCSD head coach Brian McManus. "At halftime I asked our team to step up to their level and I think we were able to do that."
UCSD would have an opportunity to get on the board a handful of minutes into the final frame, as Wi appeared to be fouled in the penalty box with her back towards goal. The head referee instead awarded the Tritons a free kick outside the edge of the box, allowing Johnson to float a ball to the back post for Anne Wethe. Wethe met it were her forehead, sending Parise to the ground to make the save.
GVSU made it 3-0 in the 56th minute, as Jaleen Dingledine caught up to a free ball at the edge of the six yard box, beating Armstrong with a shot to the near post. Addison would tack-on another goal for the Lakers twenty minutes later, pounding home a goal after the ball pinged around a crowded goal box on a GVSU corner kick.
The Tritons move to 7-3 all-time in national championship matches. GVSU outscored 2010 NCAA Tournament opponents, 17-0, and gave up a mere four goals the entire season.
"They were a step above us," said McManus. "They were more mature and quicker on the ball than we were. I think their experience helped a bit."
Lisa Bradley and Annette Ilg will be the lone seniors to graduate from this year's team, as the bulk of the Tritons will return for the 2011 campaign. Ilg finishes her lone season on the women's soccer team with team-high 11 goals, 27 points, and four game-winning scores. Bradley, a team captain, will move on having appeared in every UCSD NCAA tournament match since 2007.
Ilg, Bradley and Armstrong were selected to the 2010 All-NCAA Tournament Team after the match.
Recap the Tritons' run at the NCAA Division II National Championships by visiting Soccer Championship Central for player and coaches interviews, photos and videos from the team's trip to Louisville.