CARSON, Calif. - The 13th-ranked UC San Diego women's soccer team outlasted No. 7 Sonoma State on penalty kicks in the title match of the 2012 California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Championship Sunday at Toro Stadium on the campus of host Cal State Dominguez Hills, winning its record eighth conference crown.
The 90 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods had ended in a 1-1 draw, with UCSD scoring 24 seconds into the second half through Gabi Hernandez and Sonoma State equalizing with only 43 ticks left at the end of that same period.
To open the fifth round of the penalty-kick tiebreaker, Hayley Johnson, like Hernandez a senior tri-captain, stepped up with the Tritons sporting a 3-2 shootout lead. The Santa Rosa native calmly slotted her kick into the lower left corner and put the exclamation mark on UCSD's first conference championship since 2008.
The result thus earns UCSD the CCAA's automatic berth into the 2012 NCAA Division II Championship, set to begin this Thursday, Nov. 8. The official announcement of the 48-team field will be made on Monday, Nov. 5, at 4:30 p.m. PT, and can be viewed live online at NCAA.com, under the Video tab. Head coach Brian McManus' Tritons will be making an eighth consecutive NCAA appearance and 12th in 13 years since moving up from Division III to Division II.
With the result officially going down as a tie, CCAA South Division champion UCSD moved to 14-2-3 overall. North Division winner Sonoma State is now 16-2-2. The nationally-ranked foes had also played to a draw in Rohnert Park, 0-0, in their only regular-season meeting of the year back on Oct. 5.
The third-seeded Tritons edged second seed Cal State Stanislaus, 2-1, to reach the final, while the top-seeded Seawolves defeated fourth seed Cal Poly Pomona, 4-2.
The tiebreaker began with junior forward Casey Parisi and Hernandez both scoring their chances for UCSD. Gretel Amman's successful kick followed Parisi, while Alesha Laranjo missed high to give the Tritons the edge. The Seawolves caught a break when Triton sophomore Cassie Callahan smacked her attempt off the crossbar, but were unable to capitalize as freshman goalkeeper Kelcie Brodsky dove low to her right to deny JJ McFarlin to close the third round and maintain a 2-1 advantage for UCSD.
Ellen Wilson, a third senior tri-captain for the Tritons and the 2012 CCAA Most Valuable Defensive Player, froze senior Sonoma State goalie Alexis Sciacqua and buried her shot into the lower left corner for the commanding 3-1 lead. Margi Osmundson, who had knotted the game at the death in regulation, kept her Seawolves alive once more, but Johnson made no mistake with the ensuing kick.
Hernandez was named the CCAA Championship Most Valuable Player, with Callahan, Wilson and seniors Britnee Chesney and Alexa Enlow all named to the 11-player All-Tournament Team.
The first real chance of the afternoon came from Sonoma State in the seventh minute, as leading scorer Cara Curtin, the CCAA Newcomer of the Year, beat Brodsky to a long ball into the penalty area, but her lofted shot dropped short of the target and bounced parallel to the goal line, enabling the UCSD defense to clear it away.
In the 12th minute, the Tritons were credited with their first shot, as Wilson got her head to a free kick from near the end line on the left side from Johnson, but the attempt sailed wide to the right.
Moments later on a fast break by the Seawolves down the right wing, Curtin latched onto a through ball from a teammate, with the final defender in front of her blocking her shot away from danger.
UCSD competed a player short for almost five minutes heading toward the midway point of the first half as Enlow came off briefly with an apparent ankle injury, had it wrapped again, and rejoined the fray to even the numbers back up.
Sonoma State had a near breakaway in the 32nd minute, taking advantage of a UCSD turnover in its own half, but senior forward Ashley Martin returned the favor as her touch was a bit too heavy, allowing Wilson to step in and clear.
With just over two minutes remaining in the opening period, Elena Catania took a shot from straight on outside the area, but it went harmlessly into Brodsky's lap.
At the break, Sonoma State held an 8-3 shot advantage as both teams seemed at least somewhat affected by the 88-degree heat under a blazing sun in Carson.
It took a mere 24 seconds after the restart, however, to liven up the proceedings. Enlow played a short ball to Hernandez into the 18-yard box on the left side, and the author of Friday's 87th-minute semifinal winner struck a right-footed blast into the far upper corner. It was her seventh goal on the year, and Enlow's seventh assist.
In the 53rd minute, Callahan played Jessica Wi through toward goal with a neat lay-off, and the senior winger took a couple of dribbles before having her shot saved by Sciacqua.
In the 65th minute, Bree Robles of Sonoma State took a hard, right-footed shot from outside the penalty box on the right side, but Brodsky caught her rising effort.
With under 14 minutes left in regulation, the Tritons had a good chance to double their lead as freshman Melisa Talis found sophomore teammate Kylene Hill with a pass on the left wing, but Hill's shot traveled wide to the left.
At the 89:17 mark, Osmundson, a freshman winger, drove in a hopeful cross from the short right side that went over the heads of multiple players, including Brodsky who appeared to be screened by the crowd in front of her, and found the back of the net for her second goal of the tournament, a 1-1 deadlock, and extra soccer.
Early in the second overtime, Wi did some nice work on the right side of the box before crossing into the middle, but it was slightly too high for Izzy Pozurama, whose header attempt went over the bar. Moments later, Catania provided a dangerous ball from the right that Chesney cleared away with her head for UCSD.
Brodsky came up with a career-high nine saves, while Sciacqua made two stops. Both keepers were All-CCAA Second Team honorees this season. Sonoma State outshot UCSD, 27-11.
Triton Notes: UCSD is now 14-3-4 all-time in 13 appearances at the CCAA Championship ... The Tritons are 7-0-1 in CCAA Championship title matches, winning the crown each time they have made the final ... This was UCSD's first CCAA championship since 2008 in La Jolla ... Sonoma State was denied its first CCAA championship ... The Tritons are now an even 2-2 in penalty-kick tiebreakers at the CCAA Championship, having snapped a string of two straight defeats in 2009 and 2010 ... UCSD is 5-2-1 all-time in CCAA tournament play in Carson, with three league crowns in 2000, 2003 and 2012 ... UCSD's first-ever CCAA championship in 2000 also came over Sonoma State (1-0) in Carson ... The Tritons are a still-undefeated 15-0-3 against Sonoma State all-time, including a pair of draws this season and 2-0-1 now at the CCAA Championship ... Both previous CCAA Championship meetings between the sides also took place in Carson, both ending 1-0 in favor of UCSD ... The Tritons are 9-0-2 outside of La Jolla and 1-1-2 against nationally-ranked foes in 2012 ... Ellen Wilson has still played every minute of every match for UCSD this season ... Both Friday's win and Sunday's tournament title were firsts at a CCAA Championship for every member of the 2012 Triton player roster ... Only assistant coaches Kristin Jones (2000-03) and Sarah McTigue (2008-11) had experienced either ... Kelcie Brodsky, Britnee Chesney, Alexa Enlow, Hayley Johnson and Jessica Wi have also started all 19 matches ... With her assist this afternoon, Enlow now shares the team lead with Cassie Callahan at seven apiece ... Sonoma State's 27 shots were a season high against UCSD, with a previous high of 23, also by the Seawolves (Oct. 5) ... The contingent of former Triton players on hand at Toro Stadium included Lisa Bradley (2007-10), Courtney Capobianco (2008-11), Brandie Hayungs (1993-96), Katie Kuykendall (2008-11), Lindsay Mills (2008-11) and Sara Spaventa (2008-11)
2012 CCAA Championship All-Tournament Team
MVP - Gabi Hernandez, UC San Diego
Cassie Callahan, UC San Diego
Britnee Chesney, UC San Diego
Alexa Enlow, UC San Diego
Ellen Wilson, UC San Diego
Cara Curtin, Sonoma State
Ashley Martin, Sonoma State
Margi Osmundson, Sonoma State
Sara Studer, Sonoma State
Alison Sauve, Cal Poly Pomona
Karenee Demery, Cal State Stanislaus
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