After his team fell to Grand Valley State in the 2010 national title game, UC San Diego coach Brian McManus knew what to do this time around.
“It was either we were going to come here, sit back and defend,” the Tritons coach said, “or do what we do and attack them.”
UC San Diego scored a pair of goals early in the second half Thursday night and held on for a 2-1 win over the Lakers in the Division II women’s semifinals at Blanchard Woods Park.
The Tritons (17-2-4) advance to play the St. Rose-West Florida winner in the national championship game at 3 p.m. Saturday. UC San Diego is bidding for its first Division II national championship since winning back-to-back titles in 2000 and 2001.
In a scoreless game early in the second half, UC San Diego took control of the ball. After a throw-in, midfielder Cassie Callahan, the team’s leading scorer, took possession just outside the box. She turned and kicked a high, floating shot toward the net. Grand Valley State goalie Chelsea Parise, the NCAA Division II shutout leader, leaped up for the ball, but it sailed over her hands and inside the left post.
Twenty-six seconds after intermission, the Tritons led 1-0.
“I was kind of surprised it went in, but I was super excited,” Callahan said. “I knew we had a long half left so we needed to get another one.”
UC San Diego took command when Callahan headed the shot right to Izzy Pozurama, who headed the ball past Parise. With 29:04 to go, the Tritons led 2-0.
“We knew the second goal was going to be a big goal,” McManus said. “One goal wasn’t going to be enough to beat a team that’s been in the Final Four four years in a row. The second goal was brilliant – great ball, great cross.”
Grand Valley State (20-2-3) pulled within one when Ashley Botts scored with nine minutes remaining.
But goalie Kelcie Brodsky came up big in the end, finishing with eight saves.