Local

WWU women’s soccer earns NCAA West Regional title

Photo: KPUG

WWU women’s soccer earns NCAA West Regional title

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Anna Geldenhuys (Sr., Bellevue/Sammamish) scored the lone goal early in the second half as host Western Washington University won its first West Regional women’s soccer title with a 1-0 victory over Cal State San Bernardino in the NCAA Division II National Tournament on Fri., Nov. 22, at Orca Field on the campus of Whatcom CC.

The Vikings, ranked No.9 nationally in the latest National Soccer Coaches Association of America/NCAA Division II Top 25 and the No.2 seed in the West Region, improved to 19-1-1 overall. They are 11-0-0 at home, and will host St. Edward’s in a national quarterfinal round game Sunday, Nov. 24, at 2 p.m.

St. Edward’s TX defeated Metro State CO in the South Central Regional championship game held earlier Friday, winning a penalty kick shootout 3-0 after the game was tied 1-1 at the end of extra time.

“It will be two good teams, with great athletes,” said WWU coach Travis Connell (11th year, 140-60-20). “We’re happy to be there, but we also plan on winning the game.”

CSUSB, the West Region No.4 seed, finished its season 12-7-4.

The opening goal came just 1:22 into the second half. Jessica Bertucci (So., Bellingham/Sehome) played a ball from the left side of the penalty area that CSUSB goalkeeper Chelsey Jones stepped 10 yards off her line to save. The ball spilled to Geldenhuys at the top of the penalty area, where she shot with her first touch. Jones deflected the shot, but it stayed on target, and a clearance by a Coyote defender was ruled to have come after the ball had crossed the goal line.

“Jessica made a great play getting the ball behind the defense,” said Connell. “And Anna, that’s two games in a row with goals. You can never underestimate what seniors give you in these types of games.”

From there, the Viking defense took over. After an opening half where the shots were even, WWU didn’t allow CSUSB a shot attempt in the second half, finishing with a 16-7 advantage.

“Playing with the lead is something we’ve been talking about a lot,” Connell said. “That’s the most effectively we’ve done it this season. We kept attacking, we didn’t back down. We kept pushing forward and that kept (CSUSB) pinned in.”

It was the third regional final for WWU, which had lost the previous two. The Vikings suffered a 2-1 overtime loss to UC San Diego at Denver last season, and lost to SPU, 1-0, in overtime, at Kirkville, Mo., in 2008.

The win was the first for WWU over the Coyotes in four meetings (1-2-1).

-WWU-