LOS ANGELES – Alyx Williams scored the game-winning goal in the 14th-minute of a match-long downpour Sunday as Chico State beat Abilene Christian 1-0 in an NCAA Quarterfinal match. The game was delayed by an hour and three minutes at one point during the first half for rain.
The fifth seed in the West Region, the Wildcats upset 4th-seeded Cal State Stanislaus to open the tournament, knocked out top-seeded UC San Diego to advance past the second round for the first time in school history, and then beat No. 2 seed Cal State L.A. to win the West Region.
Abilene Christian came into the match 20-1-1 having won the South Region as its top seed.
Williams, turning into a bit of a postseason hero for the Wildcats, punched home a loose ball in traffic. A Blake Lopes throw in from near the end line got to Kasey Wall for a flicked header toward the mouth of the goal. Abilene Christian goalkeeper Elliot London had it skim off her hands and it bounced in front of the goal where Williams waited.
It was Williams’ fifth goal of the season. The true freshman is becoming one of the Wildcats’ postseason heroes. She also knocked home the game-winning penalty kick in Friday’s shootout win against Cal State L.A.
Few other scoring opportunities presented themselves on the slow puddle-covered pitch. Wildcats goalkeeper Btianna Furner made seven saves, certainly commendable in the slick and unpredictable conditions. But thanks to her position and a bend-but-don’t break defense, she was only truly tested one time. Abilene Christian’s Andrea Carpenter hit a blast from 15 yards in the 68th minute, but Furner positioned herself perfectly and stepped in front of the shot at the far post.
The shutout was her 10th of the season and third in a row. Only Nicole Adams (1992) and Kari Gonzales (2006) have registered more shutouts in a single season for the Wildcats. It was the first time Abilene Christian has been shut out this season.
That defense, which has registered six shutouts in its last nine contests, has been a major force in the Wildcats’ run to the semifinals.