The top-ranked Western Washington University women’s soccer team had to battle back from its first deficit of the season to beat UC San Diego 2-1 in overtime to claim the NCAA Division II West Region Championship on Friday at Golden, Colo.
Sophomore forward Gabriela Pelogi scored the game-winning goal just over two minutes into overtime to give the Vikings their third regional title in the past four years and send WWU (21-0-1) to the national quarterfinals against host Colorado School of Mines on Sunday. It was Pelogi’s second goal of the game.
“I am extremely proud of the team for the way they competed, battled and how they won today,” Western coach Travis Connell said. “Earlier in the season I would have worried about being down early, but whenever there is a challenge, they rise to it … time and time again. Today was no different. They showed poise in the way they played, were urgent when they needed to be and executed the game plan.”
UCSD put the Vikings in a 1-0 hole in the 32nd minute on a goal by Jordyn McNutt, but in the 53rd minute, Pelogi scored the equalizer on a one-touch finish from 4 yards out off a crossing pass from Erin Russell. Caitlyn Jobanek also had an assist on the play.
Pelogi’s game-winner came off a long pass high over the defense from Taylor Hallquist. Pelogi has 10 goals this season and three golden goals in her career.
“These are the games you love to play and coach in,” Connell said. “I am just really excited that our players got to experience this. It has already been a memorable trip, but to battle back the way we did against a really top-level team is awesome.”