Nov. 20, 2008
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Midfielder Meredith Teague scored in the 16th minute of overtime, giving Seattle Pacific University a 1-0 victory over Western Washington University in the NCAA Division II Far West Regional Championship Game on Thursday morning at Truman Soccer Park on the campus of host Truman State University.
The Vikings, the No.1 seed in the region and ranked 12th nationally, ended their season 17-3-2, having a 16-game unbeaten streak snapped - the longest since 1986.
Seattle Pacific, ranked No.4 nationally and the region's No.2 seed, improved to 19-1-2 and extended its unbeaten streak to 14 games. The Falcons face the winner of today's South Central Region championship game between Truman State and Texas A&M Commerce on Saturday (11 a.m. PT) in a national quarterfinal contest.
Teague's goal came after she gathered a loose ball at the top of the penalty area. She held off a Western defender to get off a left-footed shot that curled just inside the right post.
It was the 14th goal of the season for Teague, who was the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year.
"The stats were a bit misleading," said Western coach Travis Connell. "The teams play different styles so the shot totals are different, but it was a pretty even game. Both teams had quality chances and the league MVP scored a great goal to beat us.
"You have to hold your head up and be happy to have played in such a great game."
The Falcons, who had a 7-1 edge in shots during the overtime, nearly scored in the 95th minute when a wind-blown deflection by Teague forced Western goalkeeper Kylie Broadbent (Sr., Spokane/Lewis & Clark) to stretch to keep the ball from going over her head.
In the 98th minute, Western forward Emily Frankland (So., Sammamish/Skyline) put a shot from 16 yards over the crossbar.
The Vikings opened the second half with their best chance of the day. Forward Bryn Gibson (Jr., Bellevue/Interlake) got the ball eight yards out with her back to the goal, turned and shot, forcing Seattle Pacific goalkeeper Maddie Dickinson to tip the ball over the crossbar.
Western, which had a 7-4 edge in shots during the second half, forced two saves off corner kicks midway through the period.
Playing with a 16-mile per hour wind at its back, Seattle Pacific controlled much of the first half, having a 13-2 edge in shots at halftime. Broadbent made four of her seven saves in the first 45 minutes, the most difficult being a diving stop of a shot by Jocelyn Charette in the 40th minute.
Western's best first-half scoring chances were both in the 35th minute, Frankland forcing a save by Dickinson and moments later Molly Shannon (So., Bellingham) putting a volley over the crossbar from 10 yards.
The Vikings, who won the GNAC title with a 10-0-2 record, had met runner-up Seattle Pacific twice earlier this season, earning a 1-0 victory at Bellingham on Sept. 20 and playing to a 1-1 tie at Seattle on Oct. 16.
"We talked after the game that the thing we will remember most is not the school record 17 wins or the winning streak or the league championship or the first NCAA post-season win," Connell said. "Those things are great and we enjoyed them, but the best thing was the players - how hard they played and how well they worked together."
NCAA II Far West Regional - Championship Game
Western Washington vs. Seattle Pacific
Date: 11/20/08 Attendance: 50
Goals by Period 1 2 OT Total
Seattle Pacific 0 0 1 --- 1
Western Washington 0 0 0 --- 0
SPU - Teague (Charette), 105:33
Shots: Western Washington 10, Seattle Pacific 24
Corner kicks: Western Washington 4, Seattle Pacific 3
Fouls: Western Washington 13, Seattle Pacific 8
Saves: Western Washington 7 (Broadbent 7), Seattle Pacific 5 (Dickinson 5)
Western's season ends in third round against old rival
DAVID RASBACH - THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
The Western Washington University women's soccer team entered the third round of the NCAA Division II playoffs knowing full well that it was going to face a tight game against Seattle Pacific.
In two Great Northwestern Athletic Conference regular-season meetings with the Falcons this year, the Vikings won by one goal and finished tied.
And on Thursday, Nov. 20, Western found itself in another battle.
This time it was Seattle Pacific that came out on top, as GNAC Player of the Year Meredith Teague scored the game's only goal in the 16th minute of overtime at Kirksville, Mo.
"She's definitely a pretty good player," WWU senior Katie Warner said in a phone interview. "I wouldn't have wanted to lose any other way. Obviously, I wish it could have gone the other way for us, but I commend her for taking a great shot."
The loss not only ended a 16-game unbeaten streak for the Vikings, it brought their most successful season to a conclusion with a 17-3-2 record. The 17 wins were a school record for the program.
"We were obviously down after the loss, but (coach Travis Connell) said a few words afterwards," WWU senior Kelly Gagne said in a phone interview. "This is the first time we've won the GNAC title, and you really can't ask for more than that. And then we made it to the third round of the playoffs ... It started sinking in slowly what we have accomplished, but right now the loss is still fresh."
The Vikings and Falcons battled back and forth, Connell said, in a game that was as close as the score would indicate.
"It was end-to-end action," Connell said in a phone interview. "Both teams had really good chances."
The Vikings had a great chance in the first half when Molly Shannon put a volley on net, but Seattle Pacific goalie Maddie Dickinson was equal to the task.
Dickinson made two other nice saves in the second half, Connell said, both on shots from Western's Bryn Gibson from about 12 yards out.
"Both keepers played great games," Connell said. "I would say each team had five or six great scoring chances, and the goalies stopped them every time."
Western's Kylie Broadbent stretched to keep the ball from going over head five minutes into the overtime period and was credited with seven saves in the game.
But she couldn't get to the shot from Teague about 10 minutes later.
"She's a clutch player and she scores some big goals for them," Connell said. "We had a lot of pressure on them, and they counter attacked. She received the ball on her left foot and cut the ball across her body with her momentum taking her the other way from about eight meters out ... It was a fantastic goal."
Fantastic, but heart-wrenching for the Vikings.
"It's been a great ride, but it's definitely bittersweet right now," Warner said. "I like to think about all that we have accomplished this year, but it's tough to swallow right now - especially losing to SPU."
Warner, Gagne and Connell all said playing a familiar opponent did not hurt the Vikings' chances on Thursday.
"It was just frustrating," Gagne said. "We like to play different people. It just happened to be SPU that we had to face. I think they're one of the top teams in the nation, and I think we're one of the top teams. I think we're two of the top four teams in the country, and it (is too bad) we didn't meet in the Final Four."
The Vikings will lose four seniors from this year's roster: Warner, Gagne, Broadbent and Shelby Marcell.
"I think you have to give a lot of credit to the upperclassmen that have turned this program around," Connell said. "They turned it around with talent and with hard work. Every player that comes through here after them, they're going to know what is expected now because of the work those seniors put in ... They've been a special group - all four of them."
Warner said she is proud to be a part of the team's new direction.
"I will definitely look back on this and be proud," she said. "To be a part of something where we helped build a program, not out of nothing, but with a team that didn't have the right dynamic, to add the right players every year and work hard, I'm proud to be a part of that. I'm sad it's over, but it was a great experience."
Added Gagne, "The girls had a taste of success and the playoffs, and now it's up to them to carry on."
Seattle Pacific (19-1-2), which is ranked No. 4 nationally and received the Far West Region's No. 2 seed behind Western, moves on to face Truman in the national quarterfinals on Saturday, Nov. 22.