Portland 2, Santa Clara 1
-- Christine Sinclair looked at the rain and soggy field and liked Portland's chances of winning its first national championship.
Put shots on goal, she said, and something's bound to go in.
Sinclair scored twice today, sending the Pilots to a 2-1 victory over Santa Clara with a goal in sudden-death overtime in the NCAA Women's College Cup final.
"As an attacker, you like it," Sinclair said of the slick field. "Anything on net, keep it low and it could have a chance."
A Canadian national team player, Sinclair tied the game at 1 with a goal in the 61st minute of regulation. The game-winner came when she put back a rebound of her own shot in the second overtime period.
It was Sinclair's 26th goal of the season and her 10th of the NCAA tournament. She was named the tournament's most valuable offensive player.
Devvyn Hawkins scored for Santa Clara, which won the 2001 national title.
It was just the third final to go to overtime. Portland lost to Notre Dame, 1-0, in triple overtime in 1995.
"I was breathless," said Portland Coach Clive Charles, who lost the 1995 final and hadn't made it there again until today.
The Pilots (20-4-2) won their first national title and are the lowest seed (No. 8) to win a championship.
"It was a 10-ton weight off our shoulders," Charles said of the winning goal. "I was dreading penalty kicks."
That's because senior goalkeeper Lauren Arase left the game after getting kneed in the head with four minutes left in the first overtime.
Santa Clara (20-5-1) had forced Arase to make three difficult saves and appeared to have the momentum when Arase went out. Portland put in freshman Kim Head, who had played just 25 minutes and faced just one shot all season.
But Sinclair ended any drama with the game-winning goal.
Defender Kristin Moore started a run up the left side and sent a low cross into the box where Sinclair was able to flick it on goal. Santa Clara goalkeeper Alyssa Sobolik stayed on her line and made the block. But the ball bounced off her chest, hit the right post and bounced back to Sinclair, who calmly put it into the net.
"It was a perfect cross," Sinclair said.
"We had the right person on the end of it," Charles said.
Santa Clara missed its chance to be the only team other than North Carolina to win back-to-back titles.