GRESHAM, Ore. — Natalie Popescu (Sr., San Jose, Calif.) fired a shot that tipped off a defender’s hand and into the cage with one second left in the fourth quarter to help Southwest Division Champion/No. 11 University of California-San Diego top host/Northwest Division Champion/No. 6 University of Washington, 7-6, and make the 2018 Women’s National Collegiate Club Championship Fifth Place game at Mt. Hood Community College.
UC-San Diego, which is making its inaugural appearance at the Women’s National Collegiate Club Championship after capturing the program’s first division crown, will take on Big Ten Division Champion/No. 13 The Ohio State University at 10:15 a.m. Pacific/1:15 p.m. on Sunday, May 6, in the Fifth Place game.
Trailing 3-2 at halftime, Washington pulled even 25 seconds into the third quarter as Kellie MacPhee (Gr., Encinitas, Calif.) netted the equalizer with 6:35 on the clock. However, the Tritons regained the lead as Cathleen Nguyen (Sr., Walnut, Calif.) and Kinsey Van Deynze (So., Davis, Calif.) drilled in shots at 6:05 and 4:11, respectively, to make it 5-3. Lauren Hickey (Gr., Palos Verdes, Calif.) closed out the quarter by burying a feed with 2:38 on the clock to move the Huskies back within one score at 5-4 going into the fourth quarter.
Hickey struck again 39 seconds into the final frame to balance the scoreboard at five-all, but Van Deynze pushed the Tritons back in front at 6-5 with her second goals at the 3:10 mark.
Washington once again pulled even as Mary Elizabeth Ward (Jr., San Rafael, Calif.) cashed in on a man-up bid at 2:40 to deadlock the squads at six-all and raise the spectre of overtime.
However, Popescu kept the game in regulation as she ripped a shot which tipped off the hand of a Huskies’ defender and into the cage as a power-play chance expired for the deciding blow with one second left on the clock.
The ending was significantly different than the opening moments of the game as Ward put Washington ahead with 5:31 left in the first quarter to stake the Huskies to an early 1-0 advantage.
Neither team scored again until Karli Stevenson (So., Tacoma, Wash.) flushed an advantage score with 6:10 remaining in the second quarter to provide Washington a 2-0 lead. UC-San Diego climbed back into the contest as Hannah Caskey (Sr., Garden Grove, Calif.) (1:40, man-up) and Popescu (1:00, even-strength) rattled off back-to-back markers to make it two-all prior to Nguyen capping off a 3-0 run with 17 seconds left to give the Tritons a 3-2 lead by halftime.
Washington, which will take on New England Division Champion Boston College at 9:00 a.m. Pacific/Noon Eastern on May 6 in the Seventh Place game, received pairs of goals by Ward and Hickey. MacPhee and Stevenson each contributed solo strikes to go along with a seven-save performance by goalie Elizabeth Lipps (Sr., Menlo Park, Calif.).
Popescu, Nguyen and Van Deynze all netted pairs of goals to lead the way for the Tritons of UC-San Diego. Caskey tacked on a single goal and Player of the Game/goalie Amanda Duval (Sr., Culver City, Calif.) turned aside 15 shots to notch the win.