One minor mistake became the determining factor in the California State University, Stanislaus women’s soccer team’s great season, as they fell to Cal State San Bernardino in the second round of the NCAA Championship tournament.
The number one seeded Warriors hosted the number four Coyotes on Saturday in what resulted in an overtime 0-1 upset to bring an end to Stanislaus’ most lucrative season.
“This is a tough loss because I'm confident this team was good enough to win a national championship,” Stanislaus head coach Gabriel Bolton said. “We gave a great effort; we just weren't able to put one in the back of the net. Give full credit to San Bernardino. They played a great match defensively. Certainly, this has to be considered the most successful team in women's soccer history.”
The Warriors completed the program's best season 18-1-2 overall after capturing their second CCAA title in three years a week ago. They had not lost a game, let alone been shutout, all year due to the tremendous play from the defense along with a consistent offense, but the postseason proved once more to be entirely different from the regular season.
The Coyotes were very physical in their style of play but the Warriors stepped up to the challenge and controlled possession for the entire match — something the Warriors have done all season. Stanislaus out-shot CSUSB 11-4 and out-played the Coyotes, but came up empty on chances.
“I don't think the issue was defense. We didn't execute well enough offensively,” Bolton said about his struggling offense. “This was the first game all year we were shutout. The team played very well defensively and kept great possession. We just couldn't score.”
San Bernardino knew they had to counter the Warriors offense led by All-American senior Karenee Demery, especially after losing 5-1 earlier in the year.
“I don't think anyone was over confident. That first game was months ago. I'm sure the first game influenced their strategy,” Bolton said about previously playing CSUSB. “They packed it in on defense and made it very difficult with nine or ten players always behind the ball.”
Along with the help of Jill Wierzbicki and Kelly Keyes on the defensive side, the Coyotes were able to double team and put pressure on Demery as they shut her down completely for the game. The only shots attempted at the net were made in traffic as there was constant pressure and bodies physically working on Demery from start to finish.
“Karenee had a lot of players on her and in general they had most of their team behind the ball. It's hard to break down teams that do that,” Bolton said.
In overtime play, Stanislaus goalkeeper Chelsea Lewandowski and defender Karli Nestler collided after miscommunicating and that gave Coyote Melanie Aguayo an empty net to tap it in for the game winner.
Saturday's game was the career ender for Karenee Demery, who will soon be awarded her fourth All-American honor. She closes out her career with 75 goals, 30 assists and 180 points. This season she led NCAA Division II in points and was second in goals.
“Our program certainly has come a long way over the years. This senior class went to the post season every year and won two CCAA Championships,” Bolton said. “That's a great accomplishment. I'm confident the future looks bright. We return eight starters and we have other good players ready to contribute.
“To be the only team in the history of the CCAA to win the conference championship undefeated is an amazing accomplishment. We put another banner on the wall, played beautiful soccer, and had a great time doing it. That's success in my book.”