Women's soccer wins OT penalty shootout

    Even before the Nov. 17 NCAA Division II playoff match between UCSD and Cal State Dominguez Hills was played, it had all the makings of a pressure-packed, adrenaline-filled slugfest. Cal State Dominguez Hills handed UCSD its first loss, 3-2, in La Jolla on Sept. 28. UCSD exacted revenge on Nov. 9 by soundly handling the Toros in the California Collegiate Athletic Association Finals, 5-1, in Carson, Calif.

    Carina Weber
    Guardian

    After playing 110 minutes of scoreless soccer, which included two overtime periods, it took the pair of exhausted squads a round of penalty kicks to determine the final verdict. The post-overtime penalty shootout was won by UCSD, 4-3, and was filled with subplots of its own.

    For the shootout, UCSD head coach Brian McManus sat senior goalkeeper Kami Poma after she had played every minute of regulation and the overtimes, in favor of sophomore goalie Alyson Berger. After falling behind with the first miss of the shootout, UCSD caught a break when the referee determined freshman Megan Dickey’s failed attempt came before he blew his whistle. He awarded Dickey another shot, and she took advantage of the opportunity, barely sneaking her kick under the crossbar.

    “”I think [the referee] should have called something before she kicked the ball and not let the whole play proceed,”” Cal State Dominguez Hills head coach Joe Flanagan said. “”We went from a kick away from winning, to tied, and then eventually losing.””

    Carina Weber
    Guardian file

    UCSD senior Amy Goker started the penalty kicks off with a rocket into the lower left corner that was just out of the reach of Toro keeper Alba Garcia. Erin Fiegler and Tanya Wilson converted their attempts for Cal State Dominguez Hills, with a successful try from Triton freshman Kelly Cochran in between. Senior Molly Carlson caromed one off the post and away for the first miss of the shootout, and Toro Sheila Cook buried her shot to put UCSD in a 3-2 hole.

    The apparent miss by Dickey seemed to dash the Triton hopes, but instead, her second-chance strike tied the shootout at three apiece. Chantel Eastwood then missed wide left, with a diving Berger covering the correct post in case the ball was on frame. Senior Megan Mendoza pounded her kick into the lower right of the net, giving UCSD four goals out of five attempts.

    The Toros needed Laci Gruner to convert in order to stay alive, but Berger came up huge with a diving save to her right. The ball was hit with pace, but Berger had guessed the direction to dive correctly, and she smothered the ball as it headed for the left corner. The entire team rushed Berger after her game-winning save.

    “”Kami is the big-game keeper, but she’s not as comfortable with penalty kicks,”” McManus said. He based his decision to play Berger on her performances in practice against penalty kicks.

    After losing in the NCAA playoffs last year to UC Davis in a penalty shootout, the Tritons had prepared for another likely situation.

    “”We practiced penalty kicks more this year,”” Mendoza said. She was the crucial fifth shooter for the Tritons, who were without her last year in the UC Davis game due to injury.

    Regulation time saw the two teams each come up with scoring threats, but neither was able to record a goal. UCSD out-shot the Toros, 22-12, but scoring chances were virtually even. Senior Kristin Jones and Cochran led UCSD in shots with seven and four, respectively. Despite the high shot counts and Cochran’s constant knifing through Toro defenders, the Toros didn’t provide many golden opportunities for UCSD.

    “”We wanted to double them a little more than we did in the past,”” Flanagan said. “”That was our game plan, to try and stop their two main guns.””

    Garcia was also a big factor in the shutout. The Cal State Dominguez Hills keeper came up with nine saves.

    UCSD will now play host in the quarterfinals to Metro State of Denver in the National Quarterfinals on Nov. 23. Metro State is the Midwest Region’s top seed and is currently ranked number one in the nation.

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