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Women's Soccer: Lions move on to semis

Defender McCutcheon scores lone goal to help Vanguard earn third shot at Westmont.

November 05, 2013|By Barry Faulkner

Compliments of a Golden State Athletic Conference sponsor, Vanguard University sophomore Ashley McCutcheon was one of four Lions awarded an embroidered backpack for making the all-conference women's soccer team on Tuesday.

The gift, accepted before the first round of the GSAC tournament against Biola, was completely appropriate, as McCutcheon proceeded to shoulder much of the load in a 1-0 victory on Vanguard's newly completed turf field.

McCutcheon, a defender who Vanguard Coach Randy Dodge unabashedly calls the best player on the team, headed in the only tally off a Jen Martin corner kick in the 51st minute. In her primary gig as a center defender, the Aliso Niguel High product helped the Lions (15-3), ranked No. 11 in the NAIA, record their 10th shutout of the season.

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"I am so proud of [McCutcheon]," Dodge said after her performance propelled the No. 3-seeded Lions into Thursday's semifinal at No. 2-seeded and No. 3-ranked Westmont. "She has just been an absolute warrior for us. Without her, we are not where we are right now and people don't realize that. I'm going to tell the team that [in the subsequent postgame address], but I think they all know that. Even [senior GSAC Co-Player of the Year Jordan Davidson] knows that."

McCutcheon helped the hosts withstand a spirited effort from No. 6-seeded Biola (9-9-1, 3-6-1), which was eliminated and likely will not receive an at-large berth into the NAIA Tournament. The Eagles, who were defeated by Vanguard, 2-0, in their regular-season meeting on Oct. 19, posted a 15-11 advantage in shots, including eight shots on goal to the Lions' four.

"We weathered the storm," said Dodge, who had high praise for Biola's performance, as did McCutcheon.

"In the first half, I felt like they kept coming at us strong because they had a lot of energy," McCutcheon said of the visitors. "And in the last 20 minutes, they kept coming at us pretty hard. But our defensive line kept our composure and kept on getting every single ball out. In the second half, I feel like we really stepped up, because we really wanted to win."

Vanguard junior goalkeeper Lauren Terry, motivated in a different way by the all-conference selections, made eight saves, including retreating to pounce on a shot that had ricocheted out of her grasp just before it reached the goal line late in the second half.

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