Weber State wins shootout 3-0, earns NCAA berth

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Portland State's Ariana Cooley rises up for the ball during the Vikings' 1-0 loss to Weber State in the Big Sky Conference championship game.HILLSBORO — The two sides had spent almost two hours going up and down the field without wrinkling the net during the Big Sky Conference women’s soccer finale Saturday night. But the penalty-kick shootout would be over in a flash.

Weber State stepped to the dot 12 yards out and got goals from Stacy Bair, Chansi Crompton and Bailey Earnes — three attempts, three makes.

Portland State failed to answer. The Vikings' first shot, by Tamia Hasan, carried over the crossbar, and Weber State goalie Ryann Waldman made diving saves on the next two attempts, from Abbey Bergquist and Cori Bianchini, to end the match.

“I was so excited, I told my teammates before we started, ‘I promise you I’ll save one’,” Waldman said. “We won the coin toss and got that first one. It meant a lot for our shooters to know they were one up.”

Waldman, the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, set the tone for the shootout when she walked to the top of the goalie box and stood for a moment while PSU’s shooters prepared the ball.

“I forced each of them to look at me,” Waldman said. “I’m small and not all that scary, so I wanted to do something to make me look a little bigger and put their shooters on edge a little. They say it’s a 10 percent chance to stop these shots, so everything you can do before the shot helps.”

She posted back-to-back shutouts and finished with eight saves for the two-round, four-team tournament.

The Wildcats (10-4-5), the league’s No. 3 seed, earned an automatic spot in the NCAA bracket, which will be announced Monday.

“This is something we’ve been working for ever since the end of last year,” Waldman said. “It’s something we expected of ourselves, and we’re ready to take that next step.”

Portland State finished 12-4-3.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - Portland State's Tamia Hasan looks to make a pass, while Weber State's Bailey Eames brings pressure from behind. “Our only fault was that we couldn’t beat everybody twice,” Vikings coach Laura Schott said. “That’s the thing with tournaments, you never know what can happen.”

Portland State had its chances during regulation, outshooting the Wildcats 9-3 in the second half.

The Vikings' best chance came early in the half ,when Melissa Bishop played a cross into the box, and Hasan’s header forced Waldman off her feet to snag the ball just under the bar.

The duo would hook up for one more quality chance with five minutes to play. Bishop sent a roller ahead, and Hasan rushed the scene, catching a pair of Weber State defenders standing still. Waldman came out to challenge, but she was only halfway there when Hasan let loose with a shot on the empty net. The ball chopped across the turf and curved wide of the far post.

“We created some chances, but we needed to put the ball on the frame in dangerous places,” Schott said. “We kept better possession in the second half, but we didn’t put one away, and you have to credit Weber’s back line for that.”

The Wildcats put together a few threats off the counterattack, the most dangerous coming with 2:30 to play, when Mackenzie Harrison got loose down the right side. She dribbled in close to the goal but was left with a small window to aim at from the edge of the field. Portland State goalie Caitlin Plese held her ground at the near post and gobbled up the shot from five yards.

Weber State nearly took the lead early in overtime. Mackenzie Day drew a foul in a collision 30 yards out, dead center on the goal. Crompton stepped in to take the free kick and avoided PSU’s four-person wall with a roller to the left side. Teammate Abbey Kennedy raced onto the ball for a deflection from 10 yards that forced Plese to make a diving save.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - Portland State's Melissa Bishop makes a throw-in during the second half on Saturday's Big Sky finale.

Portland State earned a series of throw-ins below the 18-yard box over the final five minutes of overtime. The Vikings nearly cashed in when Bishop played a diagonal pass toward the goal, and Ariana Cooley flashed in on the goal and dipped her head near the far post. The connection missed by inches.

Weber State held possession in PSU’s end for the final 20 minutes of the first half. Its best scoring chance came off a corner kick that sailed just over the head of Harrison, who had stepped in front of the goalie and was facing an empty net.

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