Tigers Open Women's Soccer Big West Tournament at No. 12 UC Irvine Thursday
Nov. 2, 2010
STOCKTON, Calif. - The Pacific women's soccer team enters the Big West tournament with a semifinal meeting against No. 12 UC Irvine Thursday at Anteater Stadium. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m. as the Tigers aim for its second Big West championship, and second NCAA tournament berth.
While the Anteaters (16-1-2 overall) are ranked 12th in the latest NSCAA poll, (13th in the Soccer Times and Soccer America polls), the Tigers pushed UC Irvine to the 109th minute in their regular season meeting. On Oct. 1, in the Big West opener, the Tigers and the then-No. 23 Anteaters were deadlocked deep into a second overtime before junior defender CoCo Goodson placed a restart from 28 yards just inside the post at the 108:20 mark for a 1-0 UC Irvine victory.
"We're excited to get down there and play them again. It was one of our goals to meet up with them at some point in the Big West tournament," head coach Keith Coleman said. "We had a great game there the last time. Obviously, they're a great team, but we played them well. It was 0-0 for 108 minutes. Shots were practically even, shots on goal were practically even. They got us in double-overtime on a really nice goal off a restart. But we're pretty confident going in, because we know we can play with them."
Not known then was that the Tigers were 100 seconds from preserving their own conference record, as the Anteaters went on to win their next seven conference matches to become the first Big West school to post a perfect 8-0-0 conference record. The previous best Big West finish was the 7-0-1 mark of the 1998 Pacific Tigers, which advanced to the NCAA Second Round.
Pacific is no stranger to ranked competition, as Thursday's contest will be the sixth against top 25 competition this season, all away from home. The Tigers tied No. 16 Cal on Sept. 19 in Berkeley, becoming the first team all year to hold a lead on the Golden Bears.
"The preseason we had was very tough, but it prepared us for the Big West season," Coleman said. "Once we got our offense going it led to us putting together a 5-1 record down the stretch. I feel really good about where we are at right now."
The contest against the Bears revealed how impressive the Tigers defense was capable of playing, as Pacific shutout the nation's leading scorer (Alex Morgan), while limiting the number four offense in the country to just one goal.
The Tiger defense, anchored by a backline of seniors Kylee Ah Choy and Chyanne Alejado, along with freshman Brittni Beeman and sophomore Lauren Olvera on defense and senior Jill Medigovich in goal, has been stellar all season, holding opponents to a Big West low 10.05 shots per game, and 4.05 shots on goal per match. The Tigers have six shutouts in the last 10 matches and eight total for the season. Only two forwards have scored against the Tigers this season, both following restarts.
The UC Irvine defense has also been impressive, as goalkeeper Danielle de Seriere is the only keeper in the conference with more shutouts (10) and a lower GAA (0.70) than Medigovich.
In a match that may be decided by a lone goal, the Tigers will send four of its top 20 all-time point leaders into action, including leading scorer Kristina Wavomba. The junior leads the team with three goals and four assists and now ranks ninth at Pacific in career points (39), career goals (15), 10th in game-winning goals (four) and 15th in assists (nine).
In addition to Wavomba, junior Angelica Figueroa ranks 10th in program history with 11 goals and 16 assists, including two goals and four helpers this season. Senior Sammi Teramae ranks 17th in her career (8 G, 10 A) and has a goal and two assists this season, while last year's freshman phoneme Maricela Padilla ranks 20th all-time with nine career goals and four assists. Padilla, who missed the final eight games of the season last year is still recovering from her ACL injury, she's tallied a goal and a pair of assists this season.
The winner of Thursday's contest advances to the Big West tournament final on Sunday against the winner of Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State, who will square off Thursday in Long Beach. Pacific would travel to the final, while UC Irvine has earned home-field advantage through out the tournament. The Big West champion will receive an automatic berth to the 2010 NCAA Tournament.