July 31, 2005
AGAWAM, Mass. – Notre Dame women’s soccer players Christie Shaner and Nikki Westfall added another national championship to their playing resume on Sunday night, as the pair of rising juniors combined with two incoming Notre Dame freshmen to help the Goshen-based FC Indiana club team win the Women’s Premier Soccer League national title.
(Note: check back to und.com later in the week for photos from the championship and comments from the ND players, with comments from the FC Indiana coach included below.)
FC Indiana had knocked off the host New England Mutiny in Saturday night’s semifinals (4-0) before battling the defending champion California Storm – led by former U.S. National Team player Brandi Chastain and several other elite players – in a hotly-contested final. The championship game was tied 3-3 after regulation and 4-4 after 30 minutes of overtime before FC Indiana claimed the title, 4-3 in penalty kicks.
The Storm recently were rated the world’s No. 7 women’s soccer club and had won three of the previous six WPSL titles. In addition to Chastain, the Storm roster includes the likes of Brazilian national team standout Sissi, current U.S. national teamer Shannon MacMillan, recent Santa Clara midfield star Leslie Osborne and former SCU and WUSA player Keri Sanchez. MacMillan was absent from the title game, as was former Notre Dame All-America defender Monica Gonzalez (captain of the Mexican National Team).
FC Indiana also was without one of its top players (former West Virginia and WUSA forward Katie Barnes) while losing two others – Julie Augustyniak and Tasha St. Louis (a Trinidad and Tabago national teamer) – to injury during the course of the title game.
Westfall delivered a couple of big saves during the run of play and then made two stops in the shootout, including a save on Chastain’s try. The pair of saves and the 4-3 margin both match the performance of Notre Dame senior-to-be goalkeeper Erika Bohn in the NCAA championship game vs. UCLA last fall.
Shaner played the entire game as a starting outside midfielder while incoming Notre Dame freshman Brittany Bock started and played all but a handful of minutes as a defensive midfielder. Fort Wayne native and Snider High School product Kerry Inglis – who also will join the Irish this fall – logged some quality minutes in the first and second half as a reserve midfielder.
The game was played in a rainstorm but featured eight top-level goals, with the Storm holding slight edges in shots on goal (13-10) and corner kicks (7-4). Westfall and her fellow defensive players essentially had limited the Storm to a pair of goals until an equalizer was scored in second-half stoppage time, just seconds before the whistle.
FC Indiana – now 16-1-0 overall this summer (with the lone loss coming in a 1-0 exhibition vs. the Washington Freedom that was called after 60 minutes due to a lighting malfunction) – qualified earlier in the summer for next week’s USASA Open Cup semifinals, to be played in Dallas on Aug. 5 (followed by an Aug. 6 title game). Their semifinal opponent will be the southern California-based Ajax America squad led by two U.S. national teamers: former Notre Dame standout midfielder Shannon Boxx and forward Abby Wambach (who played collegiately at Florida).
Paty Perez scored in the 20th minute to give FC Indiana the game’s first lead, with the Mexican national teamer beating her defender to the left side of the box before sending a shot into the opposite corner.
Chastain surged into the penalty area moments later and had a 1-on-1 chance vs. Westfall, but the ND ‘keeper was charging off her line and made the foot save to retain the 1-0 leaad.
Annii Magliulo then tied the game in the 35th minute, taking a pass from Chastain and flicking the ball off her heel for the 1-1 game. The Storm then surged ahead in the 35th minute, as Chastain scored on a header after a shot clanged off the crossbar.
FC Indiana forged a 2-2 tie shortly before halftime, as St. Louis headed in a corner kick from Fatima Leyva. Caroline Smith’s goal then secured a 3-2 lead for FC Indiana in the early moments of the second half but the Storm forced overtime with a goal in stoppage time, on a strike from outside the box after an attempted clear of a corner kick.
The overtime setup called for two 15-minute periods (no sudden-death) and FC Indiana took its third lead of the day, on a goal set up by Bock. Alvi Luik received the pass from Bock about 30 yards out and worked to her right before sending an 18-yard shot into the left corner of the net. The Storm then notched another goal in the final moments of overtime, as Koleen Anderson scored for a 4-4 game that forced the penalty-kick shootout.
Westfall still had to make another huge save to preserve the tie, as Sissi raced in from Westfall’s right in the waning moments of overtime. But the Ohio native was in position for the near-post save, sending the game to PKs.
Sissi opened the shootout by converting to Westfall’s left and Leyva then scored to the same spot, beating Brittany Gillespie (the ’04 WPSL goalkeeper of the year). Sanchez was next up and tried to duplicate the same shot but Westfall dove to her left for the save.
Smith then drove her shot into the upper left corner (2-1) and Chastain attempted a hesitation pooch shot that Westfall saved (diving to her right) to put FC Indiana within range of the title. Gillespie managed to put a hand on the ensuing try from Perez but the shot carried into the upper right corner for the 3-1 cushion.
Magliulo kept the Storm alive with a shot to the upper right corner and Jamaican national Hishamar Falconer’s weak shot to the right was saved by Gillespie. The Storm converted their fifth try for a 3-3 score but Luig ended the marathon night by beating Gillespie with a shot to the upper right corner.
POSTGAME COMMENTS FROM FC INDIANA HEAD COACH SHEK BORKOWSKI
“Nikki Westfall has improved all summer, from game to game, and she made a couple of outstanding saves in each of these last two games. She has been invaluable to us. She has become a better shot stopper, has improved her communication with the defense and is much stronger coming out on the high crosses. She made some fantastic grabs tonight.
“Christie Shaner has been incredible for us and we have played her in almost every midfielder and defender spot this summer. She did whatever we asked, is a tireless worker and is just a great teammate. Her team spirit is a bonus to her being such a tremendous player. We put her on Brandi at times tonight and had to move her around because of the players who got injured. But she got it done wherever we put her.
“Brittany Bock is unbelievable and is going to be a Division I superstar. She played on Saturday vs. the players from UConn and the WUSA, and she completely dominated the game, losing only one ball in the full 90 minutes. Tonight we asked her to play defense on Leslie Osborne and Brittany outclassed her. Brittany won everything in the air, won the tackles on the ground, was tireless, kept possession, had good passes and great decision making. She performed unbelievably against some very experienced players.
“We have asked Kerry Inglis to play a lot of positions this summer as well and she also has done a great job. She was out for a few weeks with an injury but was an important part of our success this weekend, playing about half the game on both nights. She is a kid right out of high school and she was out there handling former WUSA players. I think she got beat only one time tonight.
“The four girls from Notre Dame that are on this team are great ambassadors for the university. They are fantastic personalities and great players. They have been the glue that has held this team together all summer, always helping to make the other girls feel comfortable. They are four players who we have counted on in every game.
“Tonight in the game we showed that we were the fitter team overall. When we made mistakes, they punished us but we showed the character to battle back and win it in the end.”