BELLINGHAM, Wash. – The stage has been set for the NCAA Division II Women’s Soccer Championships West Regional Final, with No. 2 seed and defending national champion Western Washington University traveling to play No. 1 seed University of California-San Diego on Friday, Nov. 17 at Triton Soccer Stadium in La Jolla, Calif.
The Vikings (18-1-0) shut out No. 3 seed Sonoma State 2-0 in Saturday’s second round match at Harrington Field, advancing to the West Regional Final for the fifth time in the last six years. WWU has taken home the West Regional title in three of the last four years, winning in 2013, 2015 and 2016, including a 2-1 overtime victory over UCSD last season on a golden goal by Gabriela Pelogi.
Going on the road has not been an obstacle for Western, which is 12-0-0 away from Bellingham this season, and is undefeated in its last 24 road contests (23-0-1) with a current 23-game winning streak. The Vikings are 42-1-1 over the last two seasons, going 2-0 against UCSD during this stretch.
“We feel we are a battle-tested team and have the motto that we will play anyone, anywhere, anytime,” said 15th-year head coach Travis Connell. “This group likes a challenge and has risen to the occasion time and time again. We are excited to face a quality opponent in UCSD, as this is exactly how playoff soccer should be. These two teams have been on a collision course all season and it will be a great match to decide who moves on.”
WWU is 18-1-0 this season, and after having its 39-game winning streak snapped on Oct. 28 vs. Concordia, is 3-0 in the postseason without allowing a goal. The GNAC Tournament champions carry a six-match NCAA Championships winning streak into Friday night’s game, which includes five wins from last year’s national championship run. This season marks the sixth consecutive and eighth overall the program has advanced to the NCAA II Championships, with the Vikings going 15-6 all-time in NCAA postseason games.
The winner of Friday night’s match will face the winner of the South Central Regional Final between Colorado Mines (17-3-1) and Colorado-Colorado Springs (16-4-0) on Sunday at 2 pm in the quarterfinal round with a trip to the NCAA II Final Four in Kansas City, Mo., on the line. The Colorado Mines-Colorado-Colorado Spring game will be played at 4 pm on the UCSD campus, just prior to the WWU-UCSD match.
The Vikings and Tritons have met nine times in the all-time series (UCSD leads series 5-3-1), with the Vikings winning each of the last three matchups. UCSD enters Friday’s match with a 15-game unbeaten streak (13-0-2) and is 16-2-2 overall to rank No. 3 in the nation by the United Soccer Coaches. Countering WWU’s 23-game road winning streak, the Tritons have won each of their last 18 home games dating back to the beginning of last season. WWU is 1-2 all-time in La Jolla, with both defeats coming in NCAA Championships games in 2006 and in the 2012 West Regional Final.
ANYONE, ANYWHERE, ANYTIME...
The mantra of @WWU_WSoccer fits well as the Vikings hit the road for the NCAA II West Regional Final at UC San Diego.
Defending national champs have won 23-straight road contests heading into third consecutive West Regional Final.#GoViks pic.twitter.com/W86IOykX8W
— WWU Athletics (@WWUAthletics) November 13, 2017
WWU entered the postseason ranked No. 7 in the national poll, and ranks near the top of the NCAA II statistical leaders in several offensive and defensive categories. The Vikings are 3rd in the nation with a 0.313 goals against average and is tied for 5th in the nation with 14 shutouts. The offense is 8th in the nation averaging 2.89 goals per game and is 12th with 55 total goals.
The Vikings had nine players selected to the GNAC All-Conference team, led by four first-team selections. Pelogi (Federal Way, WA) is among the national leaders with 15 goals and 36 points, while junior forward Karli White (North Bend, WA/Mount Si/Seattle U.) was named the GNAC Newcomer of the Year and GNAC Championships MVP. White has scored two of WWU’s five postseason goals. Senior defender and reigning NCAA II National Player of the Year Sierra Shugarts (Federal Way, WA/Decatur) leads the defense that has allowed only 6 goals this season.
About WWU Soccer:
The Western Washington University women’s soccer program has risen to the top of the Division II ranks, with a string of six consecutive appearances in the NCAA Championships and has advanced to the NCAA II Final Four in three of the last four seasons. The Vikings won the NCAA Division II National Championship in 2016 with an undefeated 24-0-1 record, beating three-time defending national champion Grand Valley State 3-2 in the title game. The program has claimed five of the last six Great Northwest Athletic Conference regular-season titles, going 70-4-4 (.923) in league play during this stretch, and has won the last three GNAC Championships titles (2015, 2016, 2017). Head coach Travis Connell is in his 15th season leading the program, and has led the Vikings to eight trips to the NCAA Championships and 14 consecutive winning seasons. Since the start of the 2013 season, WWU has built a 99-6-7 record (.915), the best record among all NCAA Division II programs during this five-season stretch.
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