Call them Road Warriors, or what you will. The Cal State Stanislaus women's soccer team has taken down the top seed in the West as the Warriors defeated Western Washington, 1-0, Saturday afternoon.
The NCAA women's soccer championships second round victory propels the Warriors to the next stop — again, on the road — in the third round. The sixth seed Warriors will face No. 3 seed Cal Poly Pomona on Friday, at a South Central Region site to be determined for the West Region championship.
Cal Poly Pomona defeated Cal State L.A., 1-0, Saturday in Los Angeles. The Warriors and the Broncos will await the results of the South Central Region, with matches being played on Sunday, to see whether they will head to Golden, Colo., Commerce or Austin, Texas.
"This team executed our game plan to perfection today. I told them they are advancing because they are the most coachable team I've ever coached," said head coach Gabriel Bolton.
Tina Benson's goal at 24:15 was all the Warriors' defense needed to pick up another shutout as Cal State Stanislaus (15-4-1) limited the previously undefeated WWU Vikings offensively.
Western Washington (16-1-4), ranked 12th in the latest national poll, had outscored teams 32-6 with 14 shutouts this season. Entering the match, the Vikings were unbeaten in their last 21 home contests (20-0-1) — until now. To score a goal against the Vikings was a task for their opponents in 2014 as they had only allowed five goals with a 0.28 goals against average, fourth best in the nation.
Inside the 25th minute mark, Kirsten Coleman dribbled to the goal line and cut back to the penalty spot. Then, she touched back to find Benson finished the scoring chance with a perfect strike from 10 yards out for the only score.
"Kirsten did an amazing job of beating their defenders and slotted a perfect ball to Tina. The finish was incredible," Bolton said. "Our seniors are a big reason why we are still playing. The have absolutely taken control of this team and this season."
Benson is one of five seniors on this squad which includes Keshia Lyons, Lauren Thornton, Karli Nestler and Katelyn Nebesnick.
WWU and Stanislaus ended up pretty even on the shot-chart with a slight 13-12 advantage by the Warriors. Each had had four shots on goal with Chelsea Lewandowski picking up one more than Ashley Haden, which resulted in the difference of the match.
For Stanislaus, winning on the road has become pretty much normal. Since the middle of the 2-11 season, the Warriors have posted a 24-3-4 record, including this week's two wins in Bellingham. Stanislaus had ran a road-winning streak to 25 matches until this late September.
"Our conference prepares us very well for this level of competition," added Bolton. "From the travel demands of the CCAA to all the great teams we face every single week we knew we were prepared to handle anything SPU or Western could throw our way."
The Warriors have now posted 10 shutouts this season and allowed just one goal in the last five matches.
"When we were struggling late in the season being organized defending was a point of emphasis. Our backs and goalkeepers have raised their level of play tactically which is impressive," said Bolton.
On Friday, the Warriors captured their first NCAA tournament victory in a 2-1 overtime win over Seattle Pacific. Now, they are celebrating their second NCAA win.
Showing a lot of offensive depth, the Warriors have gotten goals from Jordan Moineau, who scored her first of the year on Friday, and now Benson. Saturday's score by Benson was her second this season.