Taylor De Leveaga
Senior Taylor Ritzman had an assist in the first half to score the first goal.
Quarterfinal: New Mexico State vs Cal State Bakersfield
The first game of the 2014 Western Athletic Conference (WAC) tournament saw fourth ranked Cal State Bakersfield take on fifth ranked New Mexico State.
Bakersfield dominated the first half in terms of shots, but a 23rd minute goal by Layla Todd for the Aggies put her team ahead 1-0 going into the break, despite being outshot 13-5. New Mexico State’s assistant coach Niki Brooks noted her squad’s preparation methods, stressing defense in training.
“We’ve played pretty good defense all year and tonight was a microcosm of how we play,” Brooks said. “We emphasize defense in practice and we know that if we want to have a season that lasts well into November we must play solid defense.”
It was the strong backline of the Aggies that allowed them to stay in front for the remainder of the game, keeping Bakersfield subdued. The Aggies were able to capitalize on another of their chances in the 85th minute, when forward Jennae Cambra hit the back of the net with an impressive strike from twenty yards out. Todd added another tally in the final minute of the match to secure the 3-0 win.
Quarterfinal: Utah Valley vs. Univ. Texas Pan-American
The second quarter final of the 2014 tournament was won by Utah Valley, who outlasted Texas-Pan American 2-1 after overtime.
Kim Stratford gave the Wolverines the victory with a goal in the 97th minute. Utah Valley had a strong foothold on the match, finishing with twenty shots to Texas-Pan American’s six. Utah Valley head coach Brent Anderson was not shy about stating his team’s need for improvement, and his opponent’s strengths.
“Texas-Pan American was very organized and made things very difficult for us tonight,” Anderson said. “We didn’t create enough attacking opportunities in the first half. We did a better job in the second half as we stretched out their backline and found some seams and created a lot more opportunities.”
Utah Valley was originally ahead after 75 minutes from a Lexi Robinson goal, who scored after a play down the right hand flank from Sidney Fitzpatrick. Texas-Pan American answered just four minutes later through Andreya Barrera, but it was the Wolverines who were able to get the vital goal in overtime and move on to the semifinals.
Semifinal: UMKC vs Utah Valley
Junior Kelly Beck scored the fifth goal in a penalty kick on Sunday.
Utah Valley’s tournament run came to a close on Friday evening in a 1-0 defeat at the hands of number two seeded UMKC. Kansas City opened the game with a barrage of shots but the UVU defense never broke through out the first half.
Utah Valley nearly broke through in the 39th minute with a shot that sailed just under the crossbar, but the ‘Roos keeper stopped it with a diving save. UVU keeper Jessica Duffin tallied 8 which kept her team in the match. However, after nearly nine minutes of constant pressure from the ‘Roos, the score finally broke. The goal was the first of UMKC Jr. Taylor Andrejewski’s collegiate career.
“I thought it was a fantastic run from Taylor to come all of the way from left back and finish that,” said Head Coach Chris Cissell. “We’re so proud of her for scoring her first collegiate goal, and in a 1-0 win in the conference semifinal no less.”
The ‘Roos also avenged their regular season loss to Utah Valley in the process. The victory set up a rematch of last year’s WAC championship with Seattle University. They had previously tied in a two overtime thriller earlier in the season.
Semifinal: Seattle University vs New Mexico State University.
Seven goals and seven goal scorers. That was the story of Seattle University’s 7-0 dismantling of New Mexico State in the WAC semifinals.
In just the third minute Natasha Howe finished a rebound off a Stephanie Verdoia shot for the initial 1-0 deficit. Just 14 minutes later Verdoia netted a shot of her own increasing the lead to 2-0 while also tying the Seattle U single season goals record with 20 on the year. Julia Moravec got into the scoring action off a deep cross from defender Kiana Kraft to make it 3-0.
Kraft scored a goal of her own later on and also totaled 3 assists when all was said and done.
“It was a great team effort for us tonight to have seven goals scored by seven different players,” said head coach Julie Woodward. “It shows how great the teamwork is on this team. I want to give special recognition to Kiana–she has worked so hard and for her to be involved in four different goals was great for her tonight.”
New Mexico State seemed doomed from the beginning. When the clock hit zero signaling the end of the game, the Redhawks had rattled off an astounding 35 shots to the Aggies’ 5.
Final: Seattle University vs University of Missouri Kansas City
Posing for photos and celebrating with fans after a historic win. The Seattle U Women’s Soccer Team defeated the UMKC ‘Roos 5-0 on Sunday, winning their second straight WAC conference title and earning an NCAA tournament berth.
The Redhawks claimed their second straight WAC title in resounding fashion with a 5-0 victory over UMKC in a rematch of last year’s final. An early second half scoring flood which saw 4 goals scored in ten minutes of play would be the difference.
“I’m at a little bit of a loss for words and I’m just experiencing so much pride for my team right now,” said Woodward right after the game. “They’ve been in the zone, especially for the last couple weeks and this was their goal all year. I was really proud of them, of their fight, of their determination. Their will to win has been unbelievable, and they’ve just been playing some really great soccer.”
It was fairly even keel in the beginning of the match. Seattle U keeper Brianna Smallidge had to make a diving save early after a defensive miscue, which allowed a close range strike from UMKC. But after 10 minutes of play, the momentum shifted in Redhawks’ favor.
Julia Moravec opened up the game in the 11th minute by cashing in on an open net set up from a Taylor Ritzman cross for the 1-0 lead. From that point on, Seattle U peppered the UMKC goal with shots throughout the half. A couple strikes from Verdoia and Ritzman sailed just above the crossbar. Although the score was close at the break, the UMKC defense was beginning to crumble.
Only 7 minutes into the second half, Moravec knotted her second score with a shot from inside the box off a Verdoia feed. One minute later, winger Natasha Howe streaked down the left set to the box then cut past two UMKC defenders and drilled one near post. All of a sudden the score had bloomed to 3-0. The attacking play of Verdoia, Morvec, Ritzman and Howe seemed constantly in sync.
“It’s chemistry on and off the field,” Verdoia said. “We’re all really good friends and there’s just a sense that we’re always going to be there for each other after the next play, even if we mess up the previous one.”
Verdoia stamped her name in the score sheet and Seattle U record books in the 59th minute with a laser that found the top corner of the net from the eighteen. Kelly Beck sank a PK in the 63rd minute for icing on the cake, which set the final score at 5-0.
The win also sends the Redhawks to their second consecutive NCAA tournament. Last year, they were bounced by the University of Portland in the first round of the tournament. That’s not the plan this time around.
“This year we took it one step further. We want to win a tournament game,” Woodward said. “So I think the focus is going to be pretty easy to change because in terms of their mindset, they’re not done.”
Look out for Seattle U on November 14th as they take on Washington State in Pullman for the first round of the big dance.
Connor may be reached at [email protected]