Evergreen Falls in Championship Game

October 29, 2005

Portland, OR - In its first-ever conference championship game, The Evergreen State College women's soccer team came up a goal short to the ninth-ranked Concordia University as the Geoducks fell 0-1 on a sloppy Cavalier field.

Concordia scored the game-winning goal in the 9th minute when the Evergreen defense miss-cleared a Cavalier cross. The ball skipped off the head of an Evergreen defender and fell behind the Geoduck's defensive line where an opportunistic Justine Pronovost was waiting to pounce for Concordia. The freshman midfielder hit a first-time volley from 10 yards past Evergreen's goalkeeper, Carly Stewart, into the left side of the goal.

Evergreen finishes its season with a record of 10-2-5 while Concordia will advance to the regional tournament next weekend.

The Evergreen women's soccer program made great strides this season recording their highest-ever finish in conference play-second place behind Concordia. The Geoducks also reached the conference finals for the first time in program history.

Evergreen lost only twice all season-both times to Concordia University-setting a record for fewest losses in a season. But the Geoducks also defeated Concordia making it the first time Evergreen has defeated a top-ten team in the recorded history of the program.

Evergreen was rated as the fourth-best team in Region I behind perennial national powers Concordia, Simon Fraser and Carroll College-all of whom are ranked in the top 25. Evergreen was ranked as high as 28 th in the country.

"We have a big hurdle to get over in Concordia, but we are close. Last year we just wanted to survive our games with them. Now, with all due respect to Concordia, we expect to win."

Evergreen had beaten the Cavaliers earlier this season, dropping Concordia from fifth place in the national standings to ninth and handing the Cavaliers their first home loss in four years. Concordia returned the favor downing the Geoducks at Evergreen's home field snapping Evergreen's 20 game regular-season unbeaten streak dating back to last season.

Saturday's conference final was a rubber match for the two teams and the first half was a back-and-forth affair with Concordia recording seven shots to Evergreen's four.

"We did a good job holding the ball in the back and building through midfield. But we were having a hard time turning that possession into quality chances. Alice Dietz did some nice work on the right side to get us behind their defense a couple of times, but getting a goal was going to be a real challenge."

In the second half, the game started slipping toward Evergreen's defensive end of the field.

"To be honest, I didn't think we would be able to put up a very good fight," said Gibson-Snyder. "The kids came off the field at half-time and literally didn't say a word for 15 minutes. I don't think they were defeated, just exhausted. Playing with such a short bench this season has really taken its toll. Half of the team is playing hurt."

"But the more I am around this team, the more impressed I am with them. It is their first ever conference final and they had no nerves. They were not the least intimidated by the challenge of playing a very good team. They don't seem to care that they lost their leading goal-scorer and one of the best players in the conference two weeks ago. They never complained or made excuses. They wouldn't admit that they were exhausted."

Concordia had the Geoducks pinned in their end for the first 15 minutes of the second half and put a half-dozen long-range shots on goal. But as the half wore on, it was Evergreen who became the aggressors as they looked for an equalizer. The Geoducks switched from a 4-3-3 to a 3-5-2 to try and get more players into the attack and the change seemed to work as the game moved back into the Concordia end of the field.

Outside back Kaylen Kelley moved into the wide-midfield role and gave the Concordia defense trouble with her speed and dribbling.

"We took a risk there opening up the back. They did get some very good counter-attack looks and probably should have scored," said Gibson-Snyder. "But there is no difference losing 1-0 or 2-0 and committing players forward was the only way we were going to get back in the game."

Evergreen nearly tied the game twice, with both chances coming off free kicks generated from Kelley's dribbling forays.

On the first chance Kate Green sent a 40-yard free kick into the box that dropped over a Concordia defender to the feet of an onrushing Marissa Major. Major found herself alone five yards from goal but couldn't connect with the pass and the ball skidded safely out of the muddy penalty area.

"I think it surprised her that it got over their back," said Gibson-Snyder. "She had so little time to react to it. If she can get any part of her foot to it, it probably goes it. And that is the difference in a game like this. They had a similar chance drop for them."

Evergreen had an even better look minutes later on a similar set piece. Green's service again dropped in the box and the Cavaliers couldn't clear. The ball fell to the feet of April MacKay who was facing goal five yards out. MacKay shot was heading toward the lower left corner of the goal when Concordia's goalkeeper, Leah Flores, stuck out a leg deflecting the ball off the field.

"Call it a great save, call it a lucky save, it all depends on the color you are wearing. That's soccer. Our job now it to bring in some more high-quality players to add to the women we have returning and make another run at the conference title next year."