KANSAS CITY, MO—(WWUVikings.com) With a dominating 3-0 victory over Kutztown, the Western Washington University women’s soccer team will play for the NCAA Division II National Championship on Saturday vs. three-time defending champion Grand Valley State.
The Vikings out-shot Kutztown 35-0 and set a Division II championships record with 21 corner kicks in the national semifinal game played Thursday evening at Children’s Mercy Victory Field at Swope Soccer Village.
With their school-record 17th shutout of the season, WWU improves to 23-0-1 on the season, extending the winning streak to 23 consecutive games to match the GNAC record set by Seattle Pacific in 2007. Kutztown has its season end with a 20-5-0 record after making its first appearance in the Final Four.
“I thought our effort was exceptional tonight and we didn’t let up the entire game,” said head coach Travis Connell, who has led the Vikings to three Final Four appearances in the last four seasons. “We had a ton of opportunities early in the game and kept pressing. Saturday is going to be a great soccer match vs. two really good teams. Our team is excited for the opportunity to play for a national championship.”
After dominating possession in the first 20 minutes of the match, the Vikings capitalized in the 25th minute on a goal by senior Becca Cates (Poulsbo, WA/North Kitsap). Freshman forward Liv Larson (Arlington, WA) tracked down her own rebounded shot on the left wing and delivered a cross that found Cates in the box for a header from 5-yards out to the near post. The header was knocked down by Kutztown goalie, but after it crossed the line.
After taking a 1-0 lead into halftime, Western went up 2-0 with an early second-half goal by sophomore forward Gabriela Pelogi (Federal Way, WA). Freshman Peyton Chick (Renton, WA/Kentridge) delivered a perfect cross that Pelogi one-timed into the back of the net in the 59th minute.
With the game already out of reach, the Vikings tacked on one more goal when freshman midfielder Jordyn Bartelson (Puyallup, WA) drove home a rebound from 3-yards out in front of the goal in the 88th minute.
While the Golden Bears did not record a shot against the stifling Vikings defense, goalkeeper Imani Taylor recorded 14 saves to fall two short of the NCAA II Championships record in a game.
Up Next: The Vikings move on to the NCAA Division II National Championship Game where they will face three-time defending champion Grand Valley State on Saturday at 3 pm CT/1 pm PT (streamed live on NCAA.com)…Grand Valley State beat Columbus State 3-0 in the first semifinal game…Saturday’s game will be a rematch of last season’s NCAA II semifinal in which Grand Valley State beat Western Washington 3-2…WWU (Week 6-10) and Grand Valley State (Week 1-5) have been the top two teams in the NSCAA Division II Coaches Poll all season…since 2012, Grand Valley State (112-6-8) and Western Washington (99-9-7) are the two winningest teams in Division II women’s soccer.
Match Notes: Gabriela Pelogi scored her team-leading 11th goal of the season, her 6th goal in the NCAA Tournament…Caitlyn Jobanek played in her 90th career match, 2nd-most in program history (Catherine Miles – 91)…Becca Cates scored her 2nd goal of the season and 3rd of her career (2nd game-winning goal)…WWU’s 23-game winning streak is now tied for the GNAC record with Seattle Pacific (8/23-11/17/07)…WWU’s 17 shutouts breaks the school record previously set in 2012…the 21 corner kicks set a record for an NCAA Division II Championship game (all rounds), breaking the old mark of 19 by Cal State Dominguez Hills in 1991 (vs. Mercyhurst)…19 players have scored at least one goal this season for WWU, and with Cates’ second goal of the season tonight, 13 now have 2 or more goals.