NCAA Division II Women’s Soccer Final
Grand Valley State (MI), 25-0-1 vs. Bridgeport (CN), 19-4-1
Saturday, December 1, 3 p.m. (EST) – Pittsburgh, PA – Highmark Stadium
John Krysinsky – Reporting
4:53 – it’s over! Bridgeport hangs on — and wins its first-ever NCAA DII Women’s Soccer championship.
4:35 – GOAL – Bridgeport takes lead. Nara Decosta with the goal, heading in a bouncing ball after a solid shot banged off the right post.
4:15 – After a scoreless first half — as Bridgeport did an excellent job in putting the clamps on the potent GVSU attack, the tables started to turn in the second half.
Grand Valley State is seeking its sixth national title (2009-10, 2013-15) and will face a Bridgeport squad that the Lakers dispatched easily in the fourth match of the regular season.
Lakers coach Jeff Hossler, however, cautioned against anyone labeling the Lakers as the prohibitive favorite based simply on the 6-1 victory on September 9 in which the Lakers outshot the Purple Knights 28-2.
When asked about this rematch in Thursday’s post-match press conference, Hossler said everything is different now, from the weather (it was about 85 degrees back then) to the way each team is playing. More from Hossler’s press conference, see below.
It’s probably a safe bet to say that Bridgeport is playing better then early in the season when the teams met. In addition, they feature the Nation’s top scorer and carry plenty of confidence into the Final.
The Purple Knights’ latest conquest came in a 2-0 win over UC San Diego in Thursday’s semifinals.
Amanda Ebbesson and Maegan Doyle found the net in the second half and senior goalkeeper Jennifer Wendelius pitched her 11th shutout of the season. Doyle’s goal was her Division II-leading 28th on the campaign.
Grand Valley State’s Ava Cook tallied her 24th in the Lakers’ 3-0 semifinal win over the Lee Lady Flames. The Lakers scored twice in a three-minute span midway through the first half, and it looked like they might be on their way to a runaway win as in most of their previous tournament matches. But Lee came out of halftime with a determined pressure attack and kept the Lakers at bay for the most part.
One of the impressive things about GVSU, is that they only start four seniors.
NCAA Championship History
This is Bridgeport’s first championship-match appearance. The Purple Knights advanced to the semis in 2015 but lost to Columbus State. Overall, Bridgeport has made the tournament in 10 of the last 12 years and is 15-7-2 in those appearances.
Grand Valley State is 47-10-7 in 16 tournament appearances … Riko Sagara registered the assist on Cook’s goal in the semis against Lee. It was her nation-leading 23rd this season and she’ll have one more game to try and match or break the GVSU single-season record of 24.
THEY SAID IT
“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet, what this group has done. I think it’s a special group, regardless of what happens (Saturday). We want to see, can you be that group that goes the extra mile? We don’t really lower our expectations. We think that we’re going to compete for a national championship every year. Last year was almost a one off, as opposed to the other way around.
“But you never really know until you see the kids. We knew what we had coming in but until you see them, whether they click with each or not, the atmosphere, the character in the locker room … it’s so important. We spent a lot of time on that in preseason. This group, because they’re so tied together, they got some results out of it.”
Mangus Nilerud, who’s been Bridgeport’s coach for the past 20 years.
— GVSU Soccer (@GVSUsoccer) December 1, 2018
A look back at some impressive goals (and back flips!) Romeo Parkes not the only one doing back flips at Highmark.
— NCAA Division II (@NCAADII) December 1, 2018
— GVSU Soccer (@GVSUsoccer) November 30, 2018