BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Freshman Hannah Huesers stole the ball near the Sonoma State goal and scored from close range Thursday, lifting sixth-seeded Seattle Pacific to a 1-0 victory against the West Region's No. 3 seed in the opening round of the NCAA Division II tournament.
SPU (15-5-1) advances to a second-round meeting with host and No. 2 seed Western Washington (17-1-1). That West Region semifinal game is scheduled for Saturday at the same Orca Field venue where the first-round game took place.
That will be the fourth meeting this season between the Great Northwest Athletic Conference rivals. The Vikings won both regular-season matchups by the same 2-1 score.
They played to a 1-1 overtime draw last Saturday in Tukwila, Wash. before SPU captured the GNAC tournament championship by virtue of a 4-1 advantage against Western in the penalty-kick tiebreaker. Huesers also scored her team's lone goal in that contest.
Thursday's scoring situation was initiated by SPU senior Kaylie Winston, who served a long ball into open space in the box. A Seawolves defender tried to shield the ball while it rolled toward her goalkeeper, but Huesers raced in to steal it and finish into the open goal from five yards out at 54:20.
The game winner was the sixth score of the season for Huesers, the second-highest figure for the Falcons.
Senior goalkeeper Natalie Harold amassed nine saves for SPU, six of them coming during the second half when the SSU posted a 10-3 shot advantage.
Allison Hadidian was credited with two saves for the Seawolves, who were 16-9 leaders in the total shot count.
Sonoma's best scoring opportunity came in the 36th minute when Lauren Fryer launched a 10-yard shot from a sharp left angle that was stopped by Harold.
The Falcons are making their 11th consecutive postseason appearance, all of them under head coach Chuck Sekyra.
Since suffering a first-round setback in their inaugural entry in 2003, they have not lost in their past 10 playoff openers. SPU won its first NCAA game in eight seasons and drew two others that were decided by tiebreakers.