Highlanders, Titans Advance To Women's Soccer Championship Match
For the first time in Big West Women's Soccer Tournament history, both semifinal contests went into overtime. No. 3 seed UC Riverside and host No. 4 seed Cal State Fullerton emerged from Thursday's fray victorious, setting up a rematch of the 2005 final.
Velasquez Scores In 2 OT To Advance UC Riverside To Big West Championship
Courtesy of UC Riverside Athletics Media Relations
The UC Riverside Women's Soccer Team is heading to the Big West Conference Championship Match for the second time in its 13-year history thanks to freshman Kelly Velasquez's score in double overtime that gave the Highlanders a 2-1 victory over UC Irvine.
UC Irvine head coach Scott Juniper
(On the game): "We had several really good looks at goal. We just felt we needed one more chance. It didn't bounce for us. And then you get hurt with one pop at the end. Full credit to UC Riverside to be fair. They made us work for everything we got. They made us work for it."
((On Laura McGrail): "Laura has been fantastic all year. She has improved a huge amount all year. When you have that kind of chemistry (on the team), Laura just flourished around that. She had a fantastic game. On another night she could have had two or three goals.
UC Irvine senior defender Zoya Farzaneh
(On the season and her last game as an Anteater): "This year we were a lot closer. It was a different atmosphere. We were just having fun playing good. I'm going to miss soccer, miss it a lot. I'm going to miss game days."
UC Riverside head coach Nat Gonzalez
(On getting to the championship game): "I'm just excited to be in the finals. Starting so many freshmen, for us to get to this point, I'm just going to enjoy the moment and that we got to a final."
(On Kelly Velasquez's game-winning goal): "None of our outside backs had gone forward, but for her (Kelly) to pick that time was key. The effor to be in the right spot. Andrea Morales just never gave up (on the pass). Like the (UCI) defender, I thought it was going out, but Andrea found a way to weasel her way in there."
UC Riverside freshman defender Kelly Velasquez
(On her game-winning goal): "I just saw the ball, and went into the middle. I took my chance. I'll remember coming up clutch for my team."
Pulliam Stops Cal Poly In Shootout
Courtesy of Cal State Fullerton Athletics Media Relations
After spending 110 minutes watching from the sidelines, Cal State Fullerton senior goalkeeper Katie Pulliam entered the match and for the second year in a row helped the Titans advance to the Big West Championship by stopping two Mustang penalty kicks in a shootout (4-3) Thursday night after the two schools battled to a 1-1 draw at Titan Stadium.
Cal State Fullerton head coach Demian Brown
(Opening statement) “A match like this brings out tons of emotions. Giving up a goal like we did was hard to take. But I was glad the way we responded with Nikki’s (McCants) goal. Playing in overtime is nothing new for us. And we have one of the country’s best shot blockers in Katie Pulliam.”
(On being at home) “Being able to play in Titan Stadium is a special thing. There’s a confidence playing here at home. Playing here against a No. 1 seed is not really a consideration for us.”
(On what home field does for CSF) “I think it’s a tremendous advantage. We’ve had a great home record this year. We’ve had the opportunity to win the tournament here before in 05 and 07. So we’ve used the past as a motivating factor.”
(On handling the pressure of penalty kicks) “I think maturity helped us. Kishi Smith is a fifth year senior. Colleen Ortega is a junior. Chelsey Patterson is a junior captain. Janali West is a senior. It’s the amount of maturity. They weren’t phased by the moment and were able to handle the pressure.”
Senior forward Nikki McCants
(On tying up the score) “My mindset is we need a goal. It was a great ball by Lauren Stupin. I made a touch on it and placed it far post like I’m supposed to.”
Senior goalkeeper Katie Pulliam
(On staying mentally focused during the penalty kick shootout) “I kept trying to remind myself that I got the first one. It’s hard to stop PK’s. It’s pretty much 50-50 chance. It was still pretty nerve wracking. There’s al title bit of guessing and a little bit of strategy. You try to read players best as you can.”
(On her preparation for a potential PK shootout) “The last 15 minutes of regulation I was starting to get a little anxious, but I started to get warm at the beginning of the second overtime.”
Cal Poly head coach Alex Crozier
(Opening statement) “Congrats to Fullerton. It was a game that no team deserved to lose. I wish them all the best on Sunday.”
(On being the No. 1 seed) “The seed really didn’t matter in this league this year. Every game was a one goal game. We knew coming into this one it was going to be a tough physical battle.”
Sophomore goalkeeper Alyssa Giannetti
(On Fullerton’s game-tying goal) “It came from point blank range and I didn’t have a good jump on it. She (Nikki McCants) did a good job of controlling it and hitting it one-time. That takes a lot of skill.”
Sophomore forward Elise Krieghoff
(Reflecting on her season) “I’m not going to look back upon PK’s because this whole season my team played phenomenal. I’m just so proud that we did something big-time in the conference, and that reflects on all the positive things this team did.”