UCSD Falls Short

    “They started thinking more about losing, than winning,” UCSD head coach Brian McManus said of his team’s 1-0 loss to West Florida in the NCAA Division II National title game.

    Playing in Evans, Ga. against No. 2 nationally ranked West Florida, No. 5 UCSD — 7-0-2 in tournament play — had every opportunity to get the go-ahead goal in the first half. Last Saturday, Nov. 30, the Tritons outshot their opponents 11-4 in the first period, with senior forward Gabi Hernandez just missing on two separate occasions early on.

    “In the first half we played exceptionally well, and we just didn’t put away the chances that we had,” UCSD head coach Brian McManus said to the UCSD Athletics Department. “And I think when the halftime whistle blew, they just froze.”

    The Tritons, a team familiar with having to score late in a game, forcing four of their past six playoff contests into overtime, struggled in the second period, while West Florida took their turn on the attack. The deciding goal did not come until the 77th minute of the match, when West Florida’s Chelsea Palmer collected a deflection off of UCSD goalkeeper Kelcie Brodsky. Palmer, West Florida’s go-to striker, controlled the ball in the box and struck past Brodsky, an All-Conference Second Team selection.

    “In the second half, it was a completely different game,” Hernandez said. “They came at us, and while they were attacking they managed to put one away, and we didn’t have enough time to come back.”

    The loss marks the last game for an unprecedented 10 UCSD seniors, with five of whom consistently starting for the past four seasons, and with three of whom garnering All-American honors.

    Senior defenders Ellen Wilson and Hayley Johnson, anchoring a three-man backline that has allowed just 16 goals in 24 games, both earned All-American and All-CCAA honors. Senior midfielder Jessica Wi finishes her time at UCSD earning an All-America nod, while also being named to the All-CCAA team. Senior forward Gabi Hernandez earned the All-CCAA Tournament MVP, while senior defender Britnee Chesney also garnered All-Conference honors.

    “This is one of the best teams we’ve ever had at UCSD, both on the field and off the field,” McManus said to the UCSD Athletics Department. “The things that they do to go the extra mile for the program has been tremendous.”

    The loss is the second time the Tritons came up short in the NCAA title match within the past three seasons. In 2010, UCSD fell to Grand Valley State, a squad they took down this season en route to the NCAA Championship.

    This season, 26-season tenured McManus will go without his eighth national title, but earns his 433rd career victory, making him the winningest coach in Division II history.

    McManus will be back next season, along with a squad that retains Brodsky, a goalkeeper who has proved herself as a freshman, as well as two of their most reliable goalscorers, junior Izzy Pozurama and sophomore Cassie Callahan.

    “I think that the underclassmen have stepped up a lot as we’ve progressed throughout the season, and I do think that they’re going to be successful beyond this,” Wilson said.

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