DENVER, Colo. - 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.
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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.
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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.
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NCAA Insider with Danielle Dixon
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.
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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.
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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.
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Scouting Report with Brian McManus
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.
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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.
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Friday's match against Western Washington will feature both live video and live stats.
-- UCSDtritons.com --