Photo by: Mike McGinnis
That is four straight CCAA Tournament titles for the Tritons for the second time in program history.

It's Four! Barber's Stunner, First Collegiate Brace, Lead No. 10 Tritons Over Sonoma State in CCAA Final, 3-1

UCSD

LA JOLLA, Calif. - Senior striker Megumi Barber's (San Diego/Mt. Carmel HS) first collegiate two-goal brace led the No. 10 University of California San Diego women's soccer team to a 3-1 win over Sonoma State in the 2018 California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Tournament final Sunday at Triton Soccer Stadium.

UC San Diego is now the back-to-back-to-back-to-back CCAA Tournament champion, extending its record haul to 12 titles overall in its 19 seasons as a league member. The Tritons were playing in their 12th CCAA final, and are 11-0-1 in those appearances, with 12 banners.

The top-seeded hosts for the second year in a row, the Tritons improved to 17-2-1 with the win. Sonoma State, the No. 3 seed for a second successive season, dropped to 11-4-4.

UC San Diego is the holder of the last seven trophies awarded by the conference, as three-time reigning regular-season and four-time tournament victors.

It was the same result, with a lot less drama, as UC San Diego had edged the Seawolves 4-3 in an instant classic at the same venue last Nov. 5, rallying from 3-2 down. This time around, the Tritons trotted out to leads of 2-0 by halftime thanks to Barber's cannon of a right foot, and 3-0 just past the hour mark. Sonoma State pulled one back moments later, but could not make any further of a dent into its deficit.

Barber clearly made the biggest impression on the final, and was justly rewarded with Tournament Most Valuable Offensive Player distinction. Redshirt junior holding central midfielder Natalie Saddic (San Diego/Torrey Pines HS), an anchor in the center of the park who also contributed a goal and an assist over the weekend, was the Tournament Most Valuable Defensive Player for the second edition in a row. The co-captain on Thursday had become the league's first two-time Defensive Player of the Year.

Barber shocked the Seawolves with the opener just 4:40 into it. The fourth-year senior, in her first year as a starter, took a through ball from sophomore teammate Michelle Baddour (San Diego/University City HS), dribbled toward the penalty area, cut onto her right peg, and from just inside the top of the box, rolled her shot on the ground past a wrong-footed Kristen Spear. Baddour earned her second assist.

Barber then saved something special for the 29th minute. Known to be a scorer of some outrageous goals, she outdid herself with what proved not just to be the game-winner, but her first decider of the season, in a tournament final. Freshman Ashlynn Kolarik's right-sided corner kick was headed out by a defender. Barber collected off a single bounce with one right-footed touch, and fired a right-footed banger head-on from outside of 25 yards, into the bottom left corner past a diving Spear. Her first two-goal effort leaves her with a career-best seven on the year.

Fellow fourth-year senior Mary Reilly (Chula Vista/Hilltop HS), Barber's strike partner, extended the lead in the 63rd minute. The without-a-doubt CCAA Offensive Player of the Year as the league's leader in goals, game-winning goals, points and shots, she ran onto a through ball down the right side by Defensive Player of the Year Saddic, and produced a right-footed blast from the right diagonal, that whipped past Spear's reach and into the left side of the net. Saddic had dribbled forward before providing the accurate feed, for her fourth assist of 2018. For Reilly, it was goal No. 15 of the year and No. 48 for her career, now tying her with UC San Diego great Lauren Johnson (1994-97) for fourth on the all-time list.

Alexis Espitia was the scorer for Sonoma State, within two minutes of Reilly's tally, as she got on the end of a long ball by senior midfielder and Encinitas product Miriam Bloom (San Dieguito HS Academy), and capitalized on some defensive confusion by the Tritons to poke her third into an empty net from close range.

Redshirt junior goalkeeper Angelica Ramos finished with four saves for UC San Diego, her best coming in the 82nd minute on an Espitia header that would have closed the visitors to 3-2 and made for a frantic finish. Spear collected seven stops in all for Sonoma State, as the Tritons outshot the Seawolves on the day, 17-14.

Senior co-captain Summer Bales, redshirt junior center back Kelsey Kimball and sophomore winger Maddy Samilo (Rancho Bernardo/Rancho Bernardo HS) joined Barber, Reilly and Saddic on the All-Tournament Team. Reilly is a perfect four-for-four in all-tourney honors, having Thursday earned a fourth All-CCAA First Team selection.

Sonoma State surrendered more than one goal in a game for only the second time this season. Both instances were in La Jolla, with the Seawolves losing the regular-season meeting as well, 2-1, back on Sept. 28.

The Tritons nearly made it 3-0 even before the interval, as sophomore reserve forward Mia Bonifazi latched onto a nice through ball by freshman Emily Killeen, but was denied from long range by Spear, who dove to her left and tipped a strong right-footed effort out for a corner kick. Reilly had a pair of golden chances to add to her ledger around the goal that she did score. Just 3:28 after the break, she latched onto another cutting pass from Baddour, but shot right at the Seawolf net-minder. Finally in the 84th, she was again saved by Spear.

UC San Diego already knew it was going to be in the field for the 2018 NCAA Division II Championship. Sunday's result makes it official, as the Tritons once again move on to represent the CCAA as its champions and automatic qualifiers. They are almost assured of being one of two hosts in the West Region, which has expanded from six to seven teams for the first time. The full field itself, in fact, has grown from 48 to 56 teams. Only the top seed now, and not the top two, earns a first-round bye. UC San Diego dropped from No. 1 to No. 2 in last Wednesday's latest official NCAA West Region poll, behind rival Western Washington. The Vikings lost in their tourney final Saturday, 2-1 in overtime at Concordia (OR), so it remains to be seen on Monday, whether Sunday's victory will move the Tritons back into that No. 1 spot. The selection show will air live beginning at 3:30 p.m. PT on NCAA.com.

Triton Notes: UC San Diego leads the all-time series, 21-2-3, with five straight wins ... The Tritons are an unbeaten 5-0-1 against the Seawolves in CCAA Tournament play, including 3-0-1 in finals with all four trophies ... UC San Diego is now 23-4-4 over its 18 CCAA Tournament appearances, with nine consecutive victories as the four-time reigning champion ... UC San Diego utilized the same starting lineup for the 18th time in 20 games this year ... Senior co-captain Summer Bales started her 43rd consecutive game on the left side of midfield ... Redshirt junior co-captain Natalie Saddic started her 59th straight match ... UC San Diego remains a perfect 10-0 at home this season, presumably with at least one more game in La Jolla next week ... The Tritons are 29-0-1 over their last 30 home contests, dating back to Sept. 11, 2016 ... Megumi Barber's two goals give her 13 for her career, with three game-winners as a Triton ... Mary Reilly's game-high seven shots pushed her over the 100 mark for the season for the second time in her career, now at a career-high 105, which leads the CCAA for a fourth straight year, by 43 now over teammate Barber ... Reilly's career total is at 372 shots ... Reilly has 48 goals and 117 total points as a Triton, alone in fifth place in the UC San Diego record book in the latter ... Reilly's season-by-season goal totals are 11 as a freshman, 13 as a sophomore, nine a year ago, and 15 as a senior ... Her goal gave the Tritons a league-leading 40 as a team in 2018 ... Natalie Saddic has four career assists, all since Sept. 22 of this campaign ... UC San Diego allowed its highest number of shots, 14, since 17 in a 2-1 victory at Division I Hawai'i back on Sept. 7.

2018 CCAA All-Tournament Team
Most Valuable Offensive Player: Megumi Barber, UC San Diego
Most Valuable Defensive Player: Natalie Saddic, UC San Diego
Summer Bales, UC San Diego
Kelsey Kimball, UC San Diego
Mary Reilly, UC San Diego
Maddy Samilo, UC San Diego

Bella Amyx, Sonoma State
Kristen Spear, Sonoma State
Madison Watts, Sonoma State
Sarah Emigh, Chico State
Jamie Ikeda, Chico State

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.

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