Western’s women’s soccer team // Photo courtesy of Western Athletics
Rohnert Park, Calif. – The No. 3 Western women’s soccer team defeated California State University Los Angeles 1-0 to move on to the NCAA Division II West Regional Championship for the fifth consecutive season on Sunday, Nov. 24, in Rohnert Park, California, after an exciting double overtime match-up.
Viking junior midfielder Grace Eversaul scored the game-winning golden goal just under three minutes into the double overtime to win the game. She was assisted by senior defender Peyton Chick who lofted the ball high into the box from the left flank, and senior forward Liv Larson, who then helped to nudge the ball toward the goal where Eversaul kicked it home for the win.
These assists marked Chick’s 19th career assist and Larson’s 26th career assist for the Vikings. Both of these players are among the top 10 in assists in the history of the program.
“It was a great ball by Peyton [Chick] and a little touch by Liv [Larson] that had a gigantic impact,” head coach Travis Connell said. “I am proud of the team, but really more excited for the players to experience this and to be rewarded for all their hard work. They came up big in big moments all game … and they were rewarded with the game-winner.
The Vikings outplayed CSLA in the first half and outshot them 10-1, but the game remained scoreless. The Golden Eagles had only a few real scoring chances but were kept shutout by junior goalkeeper Natalie Dierickx. Eversaul’s late goal cemented the Vikings’ win in the next round of the tournament.
“The goal was a huge relief, we had been working so hard all game to put it in the back of the net,” said Chick. “I think our team came out really strong and our defensive effort was never ending.”
The victory helped the Vikings avenge a loss to the Golden Eagles earlier in the season and advance to the Sweet 16 and the West Regional Final on Dec. 5, versus Point Loma Nazarene University. Western will host the West and South Central Regional Final of the Division II Women’s Soccer Championships at Robert S. Harrington Field.
“We have to give a lot of credit to Cal State LA … they are hard to score against, as is evident by how long it took us in two games, but they did a great job, had a great game plan and presented us with numerous challenges,” Connell said.
The Vikings out-shot CSLA 22-4 and held a 14-2 advantage in shots on goal. It is the 15th shutout for the Vikings on the season and 10th shutout for Dierickx.
“The defense always had an answer, and the backline and Natalie [Dierickx] were fantastic today,” Connell said, on his defense. “Cal State LA threw a lot at us in the second half, and our players stepped up and were up to the task.”
The Vikings played the first match of the first round on Friday, Nov. 22, against Stanislaus State, where they won 1-0. The Vikings got a late-game goal by senior defender Lindsey Fujiwara for the victory.
The Western women have an overall record to 20-2-0 after their 16th consecutive victory and recorded their fourth 20-win season in the 40-year history of the women’s soccer program. The team will be playing in its 10th NCAA Division II Championships overall, including their eighth consecutive appearance, and are now 19-7-1 in the tournament.