DENVER, Colo. - Gabi Hernandez and the Tritons did it again.
The senior tri-captain scored her fourth goal in as many games this postseason, and fifth-ranked UC San Diego needed overtime once more to win, 2-1, over No. 23 Western Washington in an NCAA Division II Women's Soccer Championship Third Round match at Auraria Field on Friday afternoon.
The decider by Hernandez at 90:51 also meant win No. 433 for 26th-year UCSD head coach Brian McManus, moving him into sole possession of first-place all-time in NCAA Division II women's soccer.
UCSD, the highest remaining seed in the West Region at No. 2, won its first regional championship since 2010 in improving to 16-2-3. The Tritons are now 5-1-3 in overtime matches in 2012 following a second straight extra-time victory this NCAA Championship. They edged Seattle Pacific by the identical score of 2-1 in double overtime in the Second Round on Nov. 10 after opening with a bye.
The fifth-seeded Vikings completed their season at 19-4, the 19 wins a program record. The contest pitted this year's champions of the California Collegiate Athletic Association and Great Northwest Athletic Conference against each other. UCSD remains an undefeated 5-0-1 all-time against Western Washington.
The Tritons now advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals against No. 15 Colorado Mines this Sunday, Nov. 18. Kickoff at Auraria Field is set for 11 a.m. PT. Colorado Mines took the South Central Region final as its fourth seed, 2-1, over third-seeded host Metro State before UCSD took the field against WWU. Sunday's winner moves on to the NCAA Championship Semifinals in Evans, Ga., Nov. 29-Dec. 1.
Just 51 seconds into the first of two possible 10-minute extra sessions, Izzy Pozurama played a ball through to Jessica Wi on the right wing. Wi dribbled to the end line and hit a low cross toward the penalty spot, where a waiting Hernandez smacked a right-footed shot into the left corner. It was her ninth of the season. The 2012 CCAA Championship MVP tallied in both of UCSD's games at the conference tournament in Carson two weekends ago, before opening the scoring against SPU.
UCSD created early chances thanks in large part to its bread-and-butter-play, Hayley Johnson corner kicks. A Pozurama cross from the left found Wi at the back post after eight minutes, but as the senior attempted a short cross back toward the middle of the six-yard box, the WWU center back blocked the ball away to a corner kick. Off the ensuing Johnson corner, Wi again crossed from the right, and a third senior, Ellen Wilson, struck a header that Viking goalkeeper Jamie Arthurs saved.
In the 12th minute, Western Washington earned a free kick facing the goal straight on from 25 yards. Senior midfielder Joana Houplin's right-footed shot looked like it might be headed into the right corner, until freshman Triton goalkeeper Kelcie Brodsky made an exceptional, diving save for a corner kick.
The 19th minute saw Pozurama shoot high from close range. The Triton goal came exactly a minute and a half later.
Another Johnson corner kick floated to the back post, where fellow tri-captain and four-year back-line mate Wilson was unmarked for an easy header into the empty net from inside six yards and a 1-0 UCSD lead at 19:48.
The Tritons almost made it a 2-0 advantage just seconds later as sophomore midfielder Cassie Callahan headed high. At 23:44, Johnson whipped an effort that challenged Arthurs but ultimately didn't beat the GNAC Player of the Year.
Western Washington, the designated visitor on this day as the lower-seeded side, equalized at 28:01. Catherine Miles, the GNAC Freshman of the Year, produced an incredible left-footed shot from the right diagonal outside the penalty area, and gave Brodsky no chance as the ball sailed into the far corner for the ninth score of her rookie campaign. Junior forward Kristin Maris was credited with the assist.
UCSD put together a flurry of scoring chances around the 63rd and 64th minutes of the second half. First came a crisp combination play from Wi, to Pozurama, to Hernandez, with the latter being denied expertly by Arthurs who saved for a corner kick. Less than a minute later, Johnson curled in a left-sided cross, and Wi shot back across the goalmouth from the far post, only for Arthurs again to deny. On the ensuing corner kick, Johnson passed short to Alexa Enlow, got the ball back and lifted a cross to the back post. Wilson was first to the ball once more, but her header came off the base of the left post.
Brodsky finished the match with five saves. Arthurs had four stops. UCSD outshot WWU, 17-11.
Triton Notes: UCSD is now 22-8-2 all-time in 12 appearances at the NCAA Division II Championship ... The Tritons are 10-6 in NCAA Division II Championship action outside of La Jolla ... UCSD's 5-0-1 all-time record against Western Washington includes a 2-0 mark now at the NCAA Championship (2006) ... The goal by WWU was just the second the Vikings have managed against UCSD, with the Tritons outscoring them, 14-2, in their six meetings ... The Tritons are 10-0-2 away from home in 2012, including 2-0-1 on neutral fields ... WWU allowed more than one goal in a game for just the second time this year ... Ellen Wilson has still played every minute of every match for UCSD as a senior ... Her opening goal was her third this season and ninth of her career ... Kelcie Brodsky, Britnee Chesney, Alexa Enlow, Hayley Johnson and Jessica Wi have also started all 21 matches ... With her assist on the opening goal, Johnson now has six this year and 33 for her career, still fifth all-time in program history ... Wilson's opener marked the third straight goal to begin this year's NCAA run for UCSD, that came from a Johnson corner ... The goal by Gabi Hernandez was the 20th of her career ... Her nine goals are a single-season career high ... Hernandez has three game-winners this year and seven for her career ... Wi's assist on the winner was her sixth of the year ... Wi assisted on the decider in the Third Round after scoring the double-overtime winner in the Second Round ... Izzy Pozurama was also credited with an assist on the Triton winner, the first helper of her college career ... Brian McManus had entered Friday's contest in a tie atop the all-time Division II wins list with Gabe Mejail of Merrimack College (MA) at 432 apiece ... Despite being Denver in mid-November, the weather was around 50 degrees and sunny throughout most of Friday's match ... UCSD and Colorado Mines have never before met in women's soccer ... The Orediggers are the lowest seed remaining (No. 4) among the final eight squads in this championship.
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