Falcons pass second round

With elbows flying and players getting shoved all about, Saturday’s playoff matchup between SPU and University of California, San Diego (UCSD) looked more like a wrestling match than a soccer game.

During one point in the second half, two players on either team tangled arms while struggling for a loose ball, when the UCSD player all of a sudden flipped over and landed face first on the turf. She lay on the field for a minute or so before returning to the game, only to be irate after being informed that she had been called for the foul.

Later in the match, junior forward Jocelyn Charette got into a heated argument with a UCSD defender after SPU was called for a foul.

"The game got a little physical, but that’s the game of soccer sometimes," senior midfielder Meredith Teague said. "We just have to stick to our game plan and play our game and try and stay calm."

Saturday, the No. 4 SPU Falcons (18-1-2) defeated the No. 19 UCSD Tritons 3-1 to advance to the sweet 16 in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II women’s soccer tournament.

Teague got the Falcons on the board in the 27th minute. After shaking off a Tritons defender holding onto her arm, Teague drove a shot into the upper right corner from 25 yards out.

With only 26 seconds remaining in the first half, just before a Falcons’ corner kick, head coach Chuck Sekyra yelled, "Get in! Get in!" motioning for junior midfielder Janae Godoy to retreat back into the box. With open space in front of her, Godoy received a perfect line drive pass from Teague and headed the ball into the back right corner of the net for a 2-0 lead.

"It was just being in the right place at the right time," Godoy said. "Meredith hit a great ball."

Just three minutes into the second half, the Falcons scored their final goal when senior midfielder Shannon Oakes delivered a shot near the left side of the penalty box that deflected off a Tritons defender and into the net. Godoy and Charette were both credited with assists on the play.

UC San Diego’s lone goal came at 78:01 when senior forward Natasha Belak-Berger juggled the ball in the air away from two SPU defenders and sent a shot into the back left corner.

By winning, the Falcons made it past the first round of the NCAA tournament in each of their last five seasons. Last year, the Falcons made it to the national semifinals before falling 0-2 to Franklin Pierce University in Orange Beach, Ala.

On Sunday, Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) rival No. 14 Western Washington University Vikings defeated California State University, Dominguez Hills 1-0 to move into the third round of the NCAA tournament.

The Falcons and Vikings will meet tomorrow at 9 a.m. (PST) at Truman Soccer Park in Kirksville, Mo. to compete for the West Regional Championship.

Despite the Falcons’ dominating 12-2-3 all-time record against the Vikings, this is the first time the two teams have met in the playoffs. The Falcons, who have tied once and dropped their only loss to the Vikings earlier this season, realize how important this matchup is.

"I’m excited we are playing them. We have unfinished business that we need to take care of," Oakes said.

The winner of the GNAC clash will face the winner of the South Central Region matchup between host school Truman State University (16-3-2) and Texas A&M University, Commerce (16-3-3). That game, which will be the quarterfinal round, takes place on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 11 a.m. (PST) in Kirksville, Mo.

As for the physical play ahead, the Falcons aren’t looking to back down from anyone.

"We just have to keep stepping up and being physical," Oakes said. "If we just keep playing our game and leave everything on the field I don’t think anyone can stop us."

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Title: Falcons pass second round | Author: Zach Wilson | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2008-11-19 | Internal ID: 5909