Tritons battle for convincing 2-0 victory

    The UCSD women’s soccer team: You cannot stop it, you can only hope to contain it. This describes the 2001 NCAA Division II Women’s Soccer Quarterfinals in which Incarnate Word of Texas contained the Tritons for three-quarters of the game before UCSD’s offense busted two goals to seal the deal.

    Colin Young-Wolff

    The Tritons defeated the visiting Crusaders 2-0 before a packed house at Triton Soccer Stadium Sunday night in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships.

    “”We’ll take it,”” said UCSD head coach Brian McManus, referring to the team’s win. “”They came at us hard, but we were able to hold them off.””

    The Tritons came out early and nearly stole a goal on the opening possession when the midfielder chipped the ball deep to senior forward Erika Alfredson, who just missed the header past charging Incarnate Word goalkeeper Missy Howard.

    UCSD kept the pressure on and had the ball deep in Crusader territory for much of the first half, but was unable to capitalize.

    “”We had a lot of opportunities early, but we just couldn’t cash in,”” McManus said.

    The half ended with the two teams knotted in a scoreless tie.

    During the intermission, McManus looked to refocus his team rather than make adjustments.

    “”I told them to go out and play 10 minutes of solid soccer,”” McManus said. “”We just needed to regroup. We had chances in the first half. We just needed to capitalize. Their keeper kept coming out — she was very brave. We just wanted to get in there and chip it past her.””

    The players were feeling the frustration of missing the goals.

    “”It does get a little frustrating to have chances to score and not be able to capitalize,”” Alfredson said. “”We came out with determination in the second half and just wanted to put more pressure on them. We pressed a little more in the second half.””

    The teams played even through the first 20 minutes of the second half before the Tritons’ plan of attack finally beared its fruit.

    Christine Wensel chipped the ball at the net from 25 yards out despite the pleadings of McManus from the bench to drive the ball. As Howard charged out of the net to intercept the ball, Alfredson made a great play on the ball and chipped the ball past the keeper for the goal.

    McManus was happy that his team was finally able to crack Incarnate Word’s defense.

    “”The team did a tremendous job,”” McManus said. “”They stuck with it. [Alfredson] made a great play on the ball. Good players improvise and sometimes make coaches look bad for screaming from the sidelines. She did just that.””

    Alfredson remembering her missed opportunity as she scored the goal.

    “”I remembered the last time I was down there in that situation and just thought that I needed to get a little touch on the ball,”” Alfredson said. “”I heard the goalie calling that she wanted the ball, so I just tried to chip it past her.””

    The Tritons added another goal on a fantastic breakaway from Kristin Jones, who beat two defenders and Howard to ice the victory for UCSD. Alfredson picked up the assist on the score.

    “”That was as good a goal as you’ll see under pressure,”” McManus said.

    Defense dominated the remainder of the game for the Tritons, who were led by California Collegiate Athletic Association MVP Julia Cuder and sophomore keeper Kami Poma, who came up with eight saves, including two crucial ones she deflected wide in the second half.

    Alfredson’s performance was especially impressive, considering the fact that she hadn’t practiced since Nov. 14 and was still feeling the effects of the flu.

    “”I was a little nervous about my energy level coming into the game,”” Alfredson said. “”Once I got out there, the adrenaline started flowing and I was okay.””

    With the victory, UCSD will advance to play Northern Kentucky in a rematch of last year’s Division II National Championship game. The site of the game is yet to be determined, but the Tritons still have a chance at hosting the semifinal and final games.

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