Pittsburgh, Pa.-The University of Bridgeport women's soccer team made history on Saturday afternoon, as the Purple Knights defeated the number one team in the country, the Lakers of Grand Valley State University, 1-0, to win the 2018 NCAA Division II Women's Soccer National Championship. The victory gives UB the school's first-ever NCAA team national title. Saturday's contest was played at Pittsburgh's Highmark Stadium and wrapped up the 2018 NCAA Division II Fall Sports National Championships Festival. Bridgeport wins the national title with a 20-4-1 record. The Lakers end the 2018 season suffering their first loss of the campaign at a school record 25-1-1. Bridgeport's victory on Saturday also turns the tables on a 6-0 loss to Grand Valley State on GVSU'S home field on September 9th of this season.
The only tally of the national championship match came with just over 12 minutes to play (77:49) when Bridgeport junior Nara DaCosta (Pancas, Brazil) headed home goal number 11 of the season after a strike from junior Elin Eklund (Gothenburg, Sweden) beat Grand Valley goalkeeper Jessica Radice high but struck the crossbar.
The Lakers outshot the Purple Knights, 18-5, on the day and held an 11-3 advantage in corner kicks, but the University of Bridgeport defense held strong all afternoon long to notch the win.
Saturday's match was true David versus Goliath story, as Grand Valley State came into the match unbeaten in 26 matches having scored a total of 99 goals to lead country and ranked number one in the nation. The Lakers entered Saturday's National Title showdown having won five of the last nine national crowns making 10 Final Four appearances, but that did not matter to the Purple Knights who finished 2018 on a nine-match winning streak to make history.
Bridgeport entered the 2018 NCAA Division II Women's Soccer National Championship weekend as the number three seed, and the Purple Knights did not allow a goal in both the semifinals and finals blanking UC San Diego, the number two seed, 2-0, in the semifinals before Saturday's 1-0 win over number one seed Grand Valley State.
Said University of Bridgeport head coach Magnus Nilerud, who earned a National Title in his twentieth season as his alma mater's head coach said after the match, "It's a little surreal. Obviously it's a fantastic feeling to beat an unbelievable opponent by squeezing out a result. I thought we played well in the first half and kept it going in the second and scored when we had a chance. Grand Valley is just so good. Hats off this group for making history."
UB senior goalkeeper Jennifer Wendelius (Lidingo, Sweden), who played every second of action between the pipes for the Purple Knights in 2018, made six saves to earn the shutout, her twelfth clean sheet of 2018 and number 33 of her career. Wendelius closes out her illustrious UB career with a total of 59 wins.
Special recognition goes to the Bridgeport back four of Annie Bjork (Fr., Malmo, Sweden), Rebekka Skaasheim (So., Balestrand. Norway), Karin Oberg (Fr., Thorildsplans, Sweden) and senior Karoline Vieira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) who kept the nation's most potent office off the scoreboard along with goalkeeper Wendelius.