It’s in post-season play that teams stop counting games as wins or losses. The vocabulary changes. Games behind calculations are replaced by an unmitigated grip on the match at hand, with the recognition that a loss — a missed penalty, a botched save — could signal the end of four seasons for any given group of seniors.
Last Friday, the second-seeded UCSD Women’s Soccer team defeated third-seeded Seattle Pacific in 2–1 in double overtime. The Tritons will now head to the West Regional final, where they will face Western Washington in Denver, Colo.
“The majority of the team that went to the 2010 finals is made up of this [senior] class,” senior forward Gabi Hernandez said. “That group has a lot of experience, so we know what it’s like to get this far, and we know that we have to take it one game at a time from here on.”
On Friday, tied 1-1 with seven minutes left in the second overtime period against third-ranked Seattle Pacific, the Tritons sent UCSD’s free-kick specialist, senior defender Hayley Johnson, to the corner. Johnson — who had already found senior forward Gabi Hernandez in the 18th minute to give UCSD the early 1-0 lead — teed up for her 12th corner of the night. With the clock winding down, Johnson signaled for movement in the box. The defender sent a driven ball in that found the feet of senior midfielder Jessica Wi, who put away the golden goal.
“It was one of those things where we were just really unlucky,” Wi said. “But we knew that we were gonna score one. We had so many chances, so when the ball popped out I just knew that I had to just try and get a foot on it.”
With the win, the second-seeded Tritons advance to the third-round of the West Regionals, hosted in Denver. UCSD will play against Western Washington in the regional final this Friday, Nov. 16.
The fifth-seeded Vikings upset first-seeded Sonoma State in double overtime last Sunday, Nov. 11. Western Washington has never advanced past the Regional round, as the Vikings came up short against UCSD in 2006 and again to Seattle Pacific in 2010.
Hernandez said that she likes UCSD’s odds in the regional final.
“We’re glad to be playing Western Washington,” she said. “We’re a little tired of playing teams from the CCAA. We did play Western Washington last season and tied them, but we know we can play better than that.”
The winner of the match between UCSD and Western Washington will go on to the sweet sixteen to play either the Colorado School of Mines or Metro State on Nov. 18.