’Dogs net WAC title

Devin Sizemore / Nevada Sagebrush

Bulldog soccer earns trip to NCAA Tournament with double-overtime victory

After starting out with a 2-7 record, the soccer team caught fire in the last half of the season posting a 7-1-2 record to head into the WAC Tournament as the No. 2 seed.

The Bulldogs received a bye in the first round, defeated Nevada 2-0 in the semi-final round and won in a double-overtime thriller Sunday afternoon over Utah State to claim the title of WAC Tournament champions.

“I’m real happy for the team being able to turn around the season,” said coach Steve Springthorpe. “We had a tough start, but continued to battle and got better with each game.”

Senior Ali Sill and freshman Laura Dodd both found the back of the net in the comfortable win against the Wolf Pack Friday night.

However, in the championship game, the Bulldogs found themselves in an unfamiliar place of late.
The Aggies struck first in the 20th minute of play, but the Bulldogs would not trail for long. Sill wasted no time scoring just two minutes later.

Springthorpe said while the team played great against the Wolf Pack, that wasn’t the case in the first half of play against the Aggies.

“We didn’t play well to begin the game,” Springthorpe said. “But Ali striking right back gave us life going into the second half.”

After Sill’s goal, both teams would go scoreless for 83 minutes until Elora Martinez notched the game-winning goal in the 105th minute. Martinez’s goal from 28 yards out gave the Bulldogs their second tournament championship in school history.

Martinez said she felt like she willed that goal in.

“All I could think when I took the shot was ‘please go in, please go in,’” Martinez said.

The Bulldogs have reached the conference championship game in the last four years. However, last year the team fell short to Hawaii, and Springthorpe said he didn’t want a repeat performance.

“When we went down 1-0 in the first half against the Aggies, I was confident we could come back,” Springthorpe said. “Though, for a split second, I did think to myself ‘not again.’”

Senior defender Selena Gill said having overtime experience factored in.

“It was a hard-fought battle,” Gill said. “But we played a lot of games that went into overtime in the regular season, and the experience assured us that we could pull it out.” Gill is one of six Bulldogs that received All-WAC honors.

Seniors Gill, Sill and Nicole Gutierrez were named First Team All-WAC along with sophomore goalkeeper Kaitlyn Revel. Freshmen Molly Nizzoli and Kendall VanDine received Second Team All-WAC selections.
After the win, Revel, Sill, Martinez and Allison Ventura were named to the All-Tournament team. Sill earned Tournament MVP honors.

Devin Sizemore / Nevada Sagebrush

With the win, the Bulldogs advance to the NCAA Tournament. However, it will not be determined who they play until the selection show today at 5 p.m. The team will watch from the Josephine Theatre.

The Bulldogs are currently riding a five-game winning streak and have recorded shutouts in 10 of their last 12 games.

“Right now, we are on a huge upswing,” Gill said. “We are coming off a tournament championship and are confident going into the NCAA Tournament next week.” Springthorpe said he’ll let the girls enjoy the win for now.

“They played with a lot of passion and desire all weekend,” Springthorpe said. “The team deserves to enjoy the win, but we’ll turn our focus over when we learn of who we play.”

The only and last time the Bulldogs won the WAC Tournament was in 2005 when all the seniors currently on the team were freshmen.

Springthorpe concluded, “I’m glad the seniors were able to go out the way they came in…champions.”

All-Tournament Team

Four Bulldogs were named to the All-Tournament Team on Sunday:

F Lauren Hansen, Utah State
F Randi Baker, Boise State
MF Cristen Drummond, Nevada
MF Miranda Montejo, Nevada
MF Elora Martinez, Fresno State
MF Ali Sill, Fresno State

D Lindsay Roberts, Boise State
D Sydne Porter, Utah State
D Jessie Malaska, Utah State
D Allison Ventura, Fresno State
GK Kaitlyn Revel, Fresno State

MVP: Ali Sill, Fresno State

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