Women's Soccer: VU rolls in GSAC semis

COSTA MESA — The big-wave surf spot Mavericks is gaining greater fame these days as the subject of a major motion picture. But just more than 400 miles south of the cascading break, the Vanguard University women's soccer team continues to regularly drop into a forceful surge of its own.

"I'm a firm believer that we're riding a wave right now and I don't see it crashing," Vanguard Coach Randy Dodge said after his team extended its winning streak to 11 with a 2-0 triumph over visiting The Master's in the semifinals of the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament on Friday.

The Lions (15-2), ranked No. 5 in the NAIA Top 25, advance to face Biola in the tournament title game on Nov. 9 at Vanguard, after which they will continue on to the NAIA Tournament. Vanguard finished 10-0 in the GSAC regular season to earn the No. 1 seed and a bye into the conference tournament semifinals.

No. 3-seeded Biola upset No. 2-seeded and No. 14-ranked Westmont, 2-1, in the other semifinal Friday.

"We gave up one goal in conference [play, in a 2-1 win at Biola on Oct. 13] and now we get to play that team again," Dodge said. "It will be interesting."

The outcome was less interesting Friday, when Vanguard junior forward Jordan Davidson caught the Mustangs' goalie coming off her line and arched a bounding shot over the keeper to open the scoring in the 14th minute.

Amanda Couch, whom Dodge credits as one of several outstanding senior leaders, earned the assist on Davidson's team-leading 15th goal of the season. It was Couch's team-best 11th assist.

Vanguard, which amassed a 17-6 advantage in shots, scored again in the 39th minute when junior forward Kayla Arenas poked in a rebound from close range for her ninth goal of the season.

The two goals upped Vanguard's scoring advantage to 37-1 during the 11-game win streak. The Lions have outscored opponents, 55-6, this season and have an eye-popping 314-93 edge in shots.

"We have great chemistry and we have great players," said Dodge, in his seventh season. "And we have fantastic leadership from players who have been starters in our program for four years. We brought in some junior college kids like Davidson, who is probably one of the three best players in the country, and we start four underclassmen, too."

Sophomore Makenna Yarbor was among those leading the future standouts, filling in at center back for senior captain Lauren Evans, who had an appendectomy Friday morning, Dodge said.

"[Yarbor] played 70 minutes today and she hadn't really gotten a whole lot of playing time all year," said Dodge, who watched sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Terry make four saves to preserve the Lions' 13th shutout this season. Terry has seven shutouts.

Vanguard entered the week fifth in the NAIA in fewest goals allowed (0.38 per game) and saw that number dip to 0.35. The Lions have 10 shutouts in 11 games since Sept. 22.

Yarbor cleared the ball from the center of the 18-yard box to thwart a rare Mustangs' scoring chance, while senior Charlotte Wisniewski, freshman Ashley McCutcheon, senior Rachel Rucireta, junior Megan Hill and freshman Angie Hook also fortified the defense in front of Terry.

Davidson, who also has nine assists this season, had eight shots for the winners, for whom senior Lindsey Holman-Kelley and junior Veronica Aguilar were also offensive catalysts.

Seniors Lauren Skachenko and Jordan Cleary also contributed for the Lions, though as transfers they do not possess the kind of history Dodge said motivates other veterans.

"As freshmen, these seniors went to the national tournament in 2009," said Dodge of the last Vanguard unit to win the GSAC Tournament. "They know what it means to be to be part of Vanguard soccer and others see what that means to them. They have put their blood, heart and soul into this program and they want to make sure that they leave that legacy behind."


Twitter: @BarryFaulkner5

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