LA JOLLA, CA — (UCSD release) Western Washington University edged Dixie State University, 3-2, in overtime in an entertaining first-round meeting in the 2016 NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Championship Friday afternoon at Triton Soccer Stadium.
(Cover photo: @soccerWWU)
Both sides were making their debut in the Division II tournament, with WWU ultimately notching its first tourney victory. Both clubs also entered Friday’s contest very much in form, with Dixie State a winner of 15 straight since losing its first three games of 2016, and Western Washington 5-0-1 over its previous six to get into the championship field.
WWU, the West Region’s No. 6 seed, improved to 10-4-4 with the result, and will take on 10th-ranked No. 2 seed UC San Diego in the second round this Sunday, Nov. 13. Kickoff at Triton Soccer Stadium on North Campus in La Jolla is set for 12 p.m. Third-seeded and 19th-ranked DSU concludes an incredible campaign that saw it run the table (13-0) en route to a Pacific West Conference crown, at 15-4.
Angel Estrada opened the scoring Friday for Dixie State just 5:27 into the match. The freshman midfielder actually began the sequence with a perfect-weighted pass out onto the right flank for Ather Dawood. Dawood’s shot from a narrow angle on the right was parried away by Viking goalkeeper Tyler Visten. Estrada had followed the play into the penalty area, however, and collected the rebound before finding the back of the net, also with the benefit of a deflection on the way for his fourth.
The remainder of the first half featured several chances to score by both sides, especially Western, but PacWest Goalkeeper of the Year Bradley Tella was equal to the task, making several tough stops among five saves for the first 45 minutes. Defender Hunter Ketterer also cleared a Luke Olney effort off the line in the 17th.
The Vikings finally found their equalizer in the 75th, as Anthony Dean rounded the corner and was adjudged to have been taken down inside the box near the end line by Ketterer. Brady Ulen drilled the ensuing penalty kick past Trella for 1-1.
At 78:42, DSU lost sophomore Dominic Damato to a second yellow-card caution and subsequent red-card ejection, and had to play a man down for the remainder.
Regulation ended in a flurry, as with 2:23 to go, the Vikings won another penalty kick, this time through a hand ball. It was Ulen again who was true with his try, for his second goal of the match and five on the year.
The drama was far from finished, however, as Dixie State earned a free kick toward the left side from about 22 yards out. Blake Damato, Dominic’s older brother, stepped up and curled a beautiful effort into the upper left corner, giving Visten no chance. Coming with just 1:07 left on the scoreboard clock, was the redshirt freshman midfielder’s first college goal, and brought on overtime.
Nearing the end of the first of two potential sudden-victory overtimes, it was Ulen again who kick-started the decisive play. His throw-in from the right side was flicked on by Jeremiah Lee, with junior Stephen Jinneman there at the near post to nod his first collegiate goal into the bottom right corner past a helpless Trella.
Trella finished with seven saves, while Visten had five. WWU held a 26-15 advantage in shots taken.
WWU has a narrow 3-2 edge in the all-time series with UCSD. The most recent matchup went the way of the Vikings, 2-0, in Bellingham, Wash., on Sept. 5, 2015.