LA JOLLA, Calif. -- UC San Diego scored once in each half and Western Washington was held scoreless for just the third time during the season as the Tritons claimed a 2-0 victory over the Vikings in the NCAA Tournament Second Round on Sunday afternoon at Triton Soccer Stadium.
Sixth-seeded Western Washington fell to 10-5-4 with the season-ending defeat, which snapped a six-game win streak for the Vikings. Second-seeded UC San Diego advances to face fifth-seeded Cal Poly Pomona in the West Region final (NCAA Tournament Third Round) next weekend. The Tritons, ranked No. 10 nationally in the most recent NSCAA poll, improved to 17-2-2 overall and remained unbeaten at home this season with the victory.
UC San Diego struck early in the 11th minute to gain a lead. A ball was played from near the top of the 18-yard box back to UC San Diego defender Jeff Powers, who took a couple of touches and fired a low line drive shot from 25 yards away to the lower-right corner of the net for his first goal of the season.
The score held until the 70th minute when a free kick from the left side of the field by forward Uly de la Cal found defender Kuba Waligorski cutting across the middle of the 18-yard box for a close range finish to the near post. Waligorski's goal was his second of the year.
"I thought we started off strong and had good energy," head coach Greg Brisbon said. "We created three really good chances and unfortunate not to get one of those. They scored a great goal so all the credit to (UC) San Diego. It's a solid team, they got one in the second (half) and it was a little too much to come back. At this level, playing in these tournament games, the margins are even smaller. You don't get to get away with the same mistakes that you do in the regular season, so that kind of hurt us today."
Although Western Washington was held scoreless, the Vikings came close to scoring on several occasions, particularly in the first half. Senior midfielder Eleazar Galvan (Chelan, WA/Skagit Valley College) found junior forward Anthony Dean (Amsterdam, The Netherlands/Bellevue College) with a through-ball pass for a one-on-one chance in the opening minutes of the game, but UC San Diego goalkeeper Cameron McElfresh came out for the save with a deflection of the shot that went off the left goal post.
Later in the half, Dean was able to leap and block a kick sent from inside the 18-yard box by McElfresh. He gained possession in the left side of the 18-yard box and fired a shot in a mostly-open box that McElfresh was able to deflect over the top of the goal. Among the chances for Western Washington was also a play in the first half in which Dean settled a long ball on the run that was played over the defense from the Western Washington back line, but the shot attempt rolled just wide of the right goal post.
Junior goalkeeper Tyler Visten (Mount Vernon, WA/Skagit Valley College) made 3 saves while McElfresh finished the game with 6 saves.
Western Washington held a slight edge in shots (14-12) as well as shots on goal (6-5). Each team had 4 corner kick opportunities.
The 2016 season for the Vikings saw Western Washington go 6-1-1 over its final 8 games to finish in a tie for second place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference standings (highest finish since 2009) and earn the program's first ever berth and victory (3-2 OT win vs. Dixie State) in the NCAA Division II Tournament.
"They've never given up once in any situation," Brisbon said of the Vikings. "We have our highs and lows like everyone else does, but at the end of the day they always believed in each other and the coaching staff and gave it their best effort. There's some very talented kids on the roster so I'm looking forward to the future of the program."
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