Time and time again, Western women’s soccer head coach Travis Connell has preached the importance of fast starts. His team obliged against the Central Washington University Wildcats in the second round of the Division II NCAA Championship Tournament.
Just 22 seconds into the game, the Vikings scored the first of its two goals and coasted to a 2-0 win on Saturday, Nov. 12, at Harrington Field.
Sophomore forward Gabriela Pelogi controlled a through ball from sophomore defender Taylor Hallquist on the right wing and fired a pass across the middle of the field. Freshman forward Liv Larson slid in at the six-yard line to finish the scoring opportunity, giving Western an early 1-0 lead.
Western almost struck again 90 seconds later when senior Caitlyn Jobanek was fouled in the box. Senior Elise Aylward attempted the penalty kick but was turned away by the Wildcat goalkeeper.
Aylward had her sights set on redemption in the 16th minute when she stepped to a corner kick. The high-arcing kick floated over the outstretched hands of Central’s keeper and into the top right corner of the goal. The unusual goal capped the scoring for the night as the Viking defense recorded its 16th shutout of the season, tying a school record set in 2012.
Central was unable to fire a shot of its own until the 25th minute and didn’t get a shot on goal until the 60th minute. Junior goalkeeper Ashley Homer recorded four saves in the shutout win.
The Vikings now advance to the third round of the NCAA tournament and will square-off against two-seed University of California San Diego in the West Region final at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 18, in Golden, Colorado.
The Western men’s soccer season came to an end after a 2-0 loss to two-seed University of California, San Diego in the second round of the 2016 NCAA Division II Men’s Championship on Sunday, Nov. 13, in La Jolla, California.
Junior Anthony Dean created multiple scoring opportunities for the Vikings, but was unable to find the back of the net.
After withstanding a strong offensive push from Western in the game’s opening 10 minutes, UC San Diego struck in the 11th minute.
Redshirt sophomore Jeff Powers surprised the Western defense with a shot from 25 yards out that made its way just right of Western goalkeeper Tyler Visten to give the Tritons a 1-0 lead. Visten tallied three saves, including a diving save late in the game to deny a powerful volley.
The game included a total of 40 fouls between the two teams, reaching peak intensity in the second half as the Vikings searched for the equalizing goal.
Western’s second half momentum slipped away when UC San Diego scored directly off a free kick from the left side to give the Tritons a 2-0 lead in the 70th minute.
Western was able to outshoot UC San Diego 14-12, but Triton goalkeeper Cameron McElfresh made six saves to lead his team to a victory and a sweet 16 appearance.
The six-seed Vikings, making its first ever appearance in the NCAA tournament, beat three-seed Dixie State University on Friday, Nov. 11, to advance to the round-of-32 matchup with the Tritons. Senior defender Brady Ulen converted two penalty kicks while junior defender Stephen Jinneman scored the game-winning overtime goal to complete the 3-2 upset victory over Dixie State University.
The Vikings finished the 2016 season with an overall record of 10-5-4 and 1-1 in the NCAA tournament. Western will say goodbye to four seniors: Brady Ulen, Conner Pichette, Eleazar Galvan and Andrew Wildfong.