ORANGE BEACH, Ala. – The No. 2-ranked Lions (18-2) advanced to the 2012 NAIA Women's Soccer National Championship Quarterfinal for the first time in program history with a dominant 5-1 performance against Baker (Kan.) (13-7-1) on Monday afternoon at the Orange Beach Sportsplex.
Vanguard looked smooth and effortless in the first half as they flew out to a 5-0 lead behind two goals apiece from junior Jordan Davidson (Tucson, Ariz.) and senior Lindsey Holman-Kelley (La Jolla, Calif.). Senior Lauren Skachenko (Chino Hills, Calif.) notched the Lions' fifth of the period with just 1:14 remaining on the clock.
Not surprisingly, the Lions' assist leader, senior Amanda Couch (Fair Oaks, Calif.) racked the first three dishes of the match. Davidson put Vanguard on the board after Couch led her with a flawless pass that she caught up to in the box before the Baker defense could drop to give the Pride a 1-0 edge.
"We wanted to the set the rhythm of the game early," Davidson said. "We tried to remain calm and control the pace. Amanda placed the perfect ball and I was able to convert."
Not twenty minutes later, the duo teamed up again to register Vanguard's second. Couch sent a through ball to Davidson who went head-to-head with Baker's Rachel Theobald. Theobald came out to contest and was reaching for the ball when Davidson snagged it from her outstretched arms and found the back of the net.
The Blue and Gold's third goal belonged to Holman-Kelley, who tracked the ball down following a free kick from Couch at the 27:34 mark.
Davidson set up Holman-Kelley for Vanguard's fourth just over a minute later with some fancy passing, which the entire Lions' squad mastered in the half.
"We are so blessed for the opportunities that have been given to us," Holman-Kelley said. "We are hoping to have more success on Wednesday. We need to stay humble and focus on preparing for our next game."
Just before the horn blew to end the period, Skachenko and senior Rachel Rucireta (Yorba Linda, Calif.) managed the Lions' final score. Rucireta recorded her sixth assist of the season, while Skachenko tallied her third goal of 2012.
After the break, the Wildcats picked up the intensity. Baker eventually broke the shutout in the 85th minute with a goal from Shalynn Eldrirdge-McMillan. The Lions did not score again but were able to get nearly everyone on the traveling roster into the game.
Vanguard had 31 attempts in the match, compared to the Wildcats' nine. Davidson had nine looks, six of which came on goal. She has 18 goals and 10 assists on the year. Couch upped her season assist total to 14.
Vanguard has won a school-record 14 consecutive matches. The team's 18 overall wins also break the Vanguard women's soccer record for victories in a season. The previous mark was 13.
"This was the first win ever at a final site for a Vanguard soccer team, men's or women's," Director of Soccer Randy Dodge said. "The kids played great today. This game was so huge for our program. We were very focused and motivated and our passing was impressively accurate. To have another 48 hours together here is a blessing in itself, but we get to play in the quarterfinal on top of it. I am very proud."
Vanguard will play the winner of No. 11-seed Kansas Wesleyan (20-1) and No. 6-seed Spring Arbor (Mich.) (18-2-1) on Wednesday at 11:30 am PST. The Lions defeated Kansas Wesleyan in the second match of the 2012 season 4-0. Kansas Wesleyan has not been beaten since.