Davis, Calif. – The dream is still alive, but lying ahead is an opponent with every intention of turning that dream into a nightmare.
That dream is a first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament for Cal State Northridge on May 11-13 at San Diego State.
Cal State Northridge, seeded fourth in the Big West Tournament, began their dream on Friday afternoon with a 7-5 double overtime victory over fifth-seed Long Beach State in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament at Ted & Rand Schaal Aquatics Center on the UC Davis campus.
The victory earned the Matadors a semi-final contest on Saturday (4/28/12, 2:30 p.m.) against one of the top teams in the nation, UC Irvine. The Anteaters are sixth-ranked in the nation and the top-seed in the Big West Tournament.
The challenge won't be easy. The Anteaters have beaten the Matadors three times this year, and five straight times dating back to the 2010 season. UC Irvine holds a 17-3 advantage in the series. And UCI has won the previous four Big West Tournaments with an unbeaten record of 8-0.
Not since April 18, 2009, has Cal State Northridge beaten UC Irvine. On that date, the Matadors recorded a 7-5 victory at UCI's home pool.
The CSUN-LBS tournament game was tense and physical throughout. Twenty-one player exclusions were recorded. A 2-1 Long Beach State lead after one period led to a 3-3 tie at halftime.
Defense then took hold for both teams in the second half. The Matadors held Long Beach State scoreless in the third period while CSUN offense scored twice to take a 5-3 lead. Marisa Young put the Matadors in front at 2:26 of the third period followed by a Kelcie Ferreira goal one minute later.
But Long Beach State wouldn't back down. The 49ers defense clamped down on CSUN's offense and held the 19th-ranked Matadors scoreless in the fourth period. Then with 2:26 left in the game, LBS's Melissa Matheson scored her second goal of the game to cut the CSUN lead to one goal at 5-4. Then with only 1:25 remaining in regulation, Chelsea Parks sailed a shot past CSUN's goalkeeper Dana Harvey to tie the game at 5-5, and send the contest in overtime.
Neither team could score in the first overtime.
In the second overtime, Young, who has scored 64 goals (fifth-best for a single season) this year, pushed a shot by Long Beach State goalkeeper Kelly Ringel at the 1:38 mark. Young's goal proved to be the winning score of the contest. Heidi Pettinger's goal with 32 seconds on the clock provided insurance.
The victory pushed CSUN's season record to 18-19. Long Beach State fell to 11-17.
#19 Cal State Northridge (18-19) 1 2 2 0 0-2 = 7
Long Beach State (11-17) 2 1 0 2 0-0 = 5
CSUN Scorers: Melissa Doll 2, Marisa Young 2, Kelcie Ferreira 1, Jenny Jamison 1, Heidi Pettinger 1
LBS Scorers: Melissa Matheson 2, Heather McKeon 2, Chelsea Parks 1
Goalie Saves: Dana Harvey (CSU) 7; Kelly Ringel (LBS) 9
The Big West Women's Water Polo Standings
1. UC Irvine (#1 Seed) 22-6 5-0
2. UC Davis (#2 Seed) 16-12 4-1
3. UCSB (#3 Seed) 20-13 3-2
4. CS Northridge (#4 Seed) 18-19 1-4
5. Long Beach St. (#5 Seed) 11-17 1-4
6. Pacific (#6 Seed) 11-17 1-4
The 2012 Big West Tournament
Friday, April 27 – First Round
#4 Cal State Northridge (18-19) 7, #5 Long Beach State (11-17) 5 (OT)
#3 UC Santa Barbara (20-13) 9, #6 Pacific (11-17) 5
Saturday, April 28 – Semifinals
#1 UC Irvine (22-6) vs #4 Cal State Northridge (18-19), 2:30 p.m.
#2 UC Davis (16-12) vs #3 UC Santa Barbara (20-13), 4:15 p.m.
Sunday, April 29 – Finals
#5 Long Beach State (11-17) vs Pacific (11-17), 10:30 a.m. – Fifth Place Match
Third Place Match, 12:15 p.m.
Championship Match, 2:00 p.m.
For complete information and results of the 2012 Big West Tournament, go to www.ucdavis.com.