Eight years and three visits to the Final Four later, the Falcons take the NCAA title
The Falcons hold their trophy high after an overtime goal by Janae Godoy cinches a championship victory over West Florida in Tampa.
Golden goal. In soccer terminology, it is a dramatic overtime goal that immediately ends a game. The scoring team instantly wins.
On December 6, 2008, in Tampa, Florida, “golden goal” meant a national championship for Seattle Pacific University. When junior Janae Godoy spun and volleyed a 10-yard strike into the side netting, she stopped the game after nearly 108 scoreless minutes and delivered the first NCAA national title in the eight-year history of the SPU women’s soccer program.
“It’s the most amazing feeling ever. Unbelievable,” the golden girl exclaimed after the game.
Godoy finished the season with a flourish. She scored eight goals all year, but six of them came during the final seven games. Godoy registered the game-winning goal in five of the last seven outings.
The fourth-ranked Falcons dealt No. 2 West Florida its first defeat. The Argonauts (24–1–1) entered the title tilt having outscored opponents 92–6. Godoy’s goal was the first allowed in 10 games by UWF, which routed Saint Rose 4–0 in the semifinals.
The championship game was a contrast in styles, pitting the speed and individual flair of West Florida against the dis-ciplined defense and balanced attack of SPU. Both coaches agreed that big-game experience was the difference.
“We were ready. It was time,” SPU coach Chuck Sekyra succinctly stated. “This was our third time here in four years, and we knew what to expect.”
“Seattle Pacific really came into the match with a great game plan and executed it extremely well,” said West Florida’s Joe Bartlinski. “They have been to the Final Four three years, so they know what it takes to compete at this level.”
The NCAA Division II title contest went into overtime for the fourth consecutive year, including 2005, when the Falcons lost a 2–1 decision to Nebraska-Omaha. They were on the happy end of a championship golden goal this time, producing the school’s ninth national title and the first since women’s gymnastics in 1997. The SPU men have won five soccer championships, and gymnastics is a three-time titlist.
The Falcons (22–1–2) concluded the campaign with a 17-game unbeaten streak. They outscored opponents by a com-bined 52–6 margin during that span.
The championship run actually started four years ago with the arrival of four players, now seniors, who ushered in an unprecedented era of success for SPU soccer. In the four years prior to their arrival, Seattle Pacific was good, with a 57–17–7 record, but had never won a playoff game.
Since Claire Grubbs, Shannon Oakes, Meredith Teague, and Katie Taylor arrived, the Falcons have been great, posting an 82–8–6 record. During that span, SPU shut out 56 opponents, participated in every NCAA Tournament, and qualified for three Final Fours.
The quartet walked off the field in Tampa the final time as collegians. As they departed, they held aloft the national championship trophy that was acquired in large part due to the defense anchored by Grubbs, a two-time All-American, and Taylor, an all-conference selection.
Oakes and Teague formed the nation’s finest midfield. Oakes was a three-time all-league honoree. Teague led SPU with 14 goals and added 10 assists. She was honored as the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and West Region Player of the Year.
Responsible for bringing that fantastic foursome into the program was Sekyra, who is no stranger to success. He has led Seattle Pacific into the NCAA Tournament in each of his six seasons. As a player, he was a starting defender on the Falcons’ back-to-back men’s NCAA championship teams in 1985 and 1986.
But Sekyra was unprepared for the emotions he felt following his team’s triumph. “I always wondered what this would feel like, and it feels even better than I thought it would,” he explained as he choked up. “We never gave up. We stayed the course and believed that what we do well would get it done in the end.”
Perhaps it was an omen when familiar Seattle weather, rain, began falling during overtime. The game was played under ideal conditions for 90 minutes of regulation time.
A steady drizzle started in the first overtime. By the time the Falcons formed a celebratory pile in front of the West Florida goal, a downpour of rain accompanied the outpouring of emotions.
The championship-game berth was secured by a 3–1 semifinal triumph over No.7 Metro State, led by sophomore forward Amanda Johnson’s two goals and assist.
Junior Jocelyn Charette also had a goal and assist in the semifinal. She distributed an assist on the championship golden goal, heading a cross from Alex Butler down toward Godoy’s feet. Charette assisted on the game-winning goal in each of the season’s last four games.
The fabulous Final Four performance was fitting for Charette, who returned to Pepin Stadium, where she played home games as a freshman for the University of Tampa. She helped Tampa to the 2006 Final Four before transferring to SPU prior to last season.
Sophomore Maddie Dickinson was brilliant in the championship game, posting her fourth consecutive playoff win in goal for the Falcons. Every time West Florida threatened, Dickinson was there to deny them en route to her 10th shutout and the 17th for the team.
“It’s an out-of-body experience. I can’t believe it,” Dickinson described of winning the national championship. “It was our season. It was our year.”
—By Dan Lepse
—Photo by Chris Livingston/NCAA Photos
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