Island Hopping

    An NCAA selection committee announced on Monday that the Tritons, who ended their regular season with a 14-2-2 record, had clinched a place in the national tournament, falling to the No. 3 seed in the West region behind No. 1 seed Seattle Pacific University and No. 2 seed Brigham Young University-Hawaii. They will be joined by CCAA rivals No. 4 seed Cal State Los Angeles, No. 5 seed Montana State, and first-round opponents San Francisco State.

    San Francisco State received the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament after capturing the CCAA championship. With a 10-4-2 conference record, the Gators snubbed Cal State Dominguez Hills to get the last spot in the CCAA playoffs, where they beat the Tritons in the semifinal round and upset top-ranked Cal State Los Angeles to capture the conference title.

    Thursday’s game will mark the third meeting between the Tritons and the Gators this season. On Sept. 26, the teams played to a scoreless draw in a match that went to double overtime. Similarly, in their semifinal defeat, the Tritons sent the game into overtime, where they were defeated by the Gators 4-3 in a penalty shootout.

    When asked if UCSD will make any tactical adjustments in preparation for the match, junior captain Annie Wethe said the Tritons are feeling confident and will look to stay the course.

    “It will just be a matter of coming in ready to play, and wanting it more than [San Francisco],” Wethe said. “I actually thought we played fairly well against [San Francisco] on Friday and I don’t think we deserved to be sent home early from the CCAAs. I’m actually glad that we have a chance to redeem ourselves. The difference will be putting away our chances and staying 100-percent organized on defense.”

    Wethe joined junior goalkeeper Kristin Armstrong and senior midfielder Lisa Bradley in garnering First Team All-CCAA honors. Junior forward Sarah McTigue and junior winger Shelby Wong made the All-CCAA Second Team, while sophomore defender Hayley Johnson received honorable mention and forward An the Year Award.

    The Tritons are in good form defensively, shutting out nine teams and allowing just five goals in the past 14 matches. UCSD also ended the regular season with five consecutive shutouts. But San Francisco State has proved tough defensively as well. The Gators are ranked second in the league for the least amount of goals allowed and are tied with the Tritons for the most shutouts. Gator goalkeeper Annicia Jones has also tallied a league-high 97 saves, and earned Second Team All-CCAA honors.

    With five players on the roster measuring 5’10” or taller, Wethe concedes that San Francisco may have a physical advantage, but that the Tritons are by no means the underdogs going into Thursday’s match.

    “San Francisco State’s greatest strength is their size and strength, but I’m confident that we have the talent and work ethic to beat them,” Wethe said. “I think every person on the team is motivated for the game Thursday, and if we stay focused defensively and keep our composure in the final third, we shouldn’t have any problems.”
    The match will be played this Thursday, Nov. 11, at BYU-Hawaii in Laie, Hawaii, at 10 p.m. The winner will advance to play against No. 2 seed BYU-Hawaii this Saturday, Nov. 14, at 10 p.m.

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