BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
On Oct. 2, 1982, Western Washington University began a winning streak in women's soccer that lasted through Oct. 28, 1984 -- 38 straight games over 25 months!
It was the longest string in school history for all sports until women's soccer won 39 in a row from 2017 to 2018.
More than that, WWU's early 1980s streak was a national record for 12 years until Division II Franklin Pierce NH won 40 in a row from 1994 to 1996. Taking a bit of luster off the Vikings' accomplishment was Division I North Carolina going 56 games without a loss from 1983 to 1985.
During the stretch of victories, WWU outscored its opponents, 198-18. The Vikings shut out the opposition 24 times and the most goals they allowed were two, which happened just once.
Western scored three or more goals in 33 of the 38 wins, and five or more 20 times, twice reaching double figures.
"We like to score so we don't hold back and play a heavy defense," said WWU coach Dominic Garguile in a 1984 interview. "We cover our spaces and try to be as aggressive on the ball as we can and try to put that ball through the goal. I encourage our players to constantly shoot."
Following a 2-1 shootout loss to Alberta in the championship game of the Victoria (B.C.) tournament on Sept. 26, 1982 (WWU had beaten two Canadian club teams to reach the title contest), Western won its next 12 games to finish with a 12-1-0 record. The Vikings had a 68-5 scoring advantage and easily took the Northwest College Women's Sports Association regional tournament with wins over Linfield OR, 9-0, Lewis & Clark OR, 7-0, and Puget Sound, 6-1.
In 1983, the Vikings finished 14-0-0, one of just two undefeated seasons in school history, the other being the football team in 1938 (7-0-0). They outscored their opponents, 62-8, and captured the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) District 1 title with shutout victories over Evergreen State, 1-0, and Pacific Lutheran, 3-0.
But it wasn't until the next year that the NAIA added a national championship for women's soccer.
In 1984, Western won its first 14 games before dropping a 2-1 decision at Washington on Oct. 31.
"Streaks are meant to be broken and sooner or later ours has to come to an end," said Garguile a few weeks before. "I never use it as incentive. If it continues, that will be great. But I won't feel any tremendous loss as long as we continue to improve our skills, stamina and team harmony. It's just a matter of keeping all of that together and not worrying about what the record looks like."
The Vikings bounced back with a 2-1 win over Puget Sound and blanked the Loggers, 4-0, in the semifinals of the NAIA Region I playoffs at Olympia, Wash., as the No.1 seed. The regional was one of four, with each sending a team to St. Louis, Missouri, for the NAIA National Tournament.
In the regional championship game, Western dropped a heart-breaking 3-2 decision to St. Mary's of Moraga, Calif., which advanced to the final four and won the national title with a 4-0 win over Cardinal Newman MO.
In some ways, the loss to St. Mary's was more devastating for the Vikings then having their winning streak snapped. A victory would have given them an excellent chance to become the first team in school history to win a national title. The representative coming out of the West Region was viewed as the prohibitive favorite. Instead, WWU had to wait 14 more years for its first team national title, that coming in softball in 1998.
"I think we should have won that game, but those things happen," Garguile said after the title contest. "If you looked at our season, we weren't challenged that much. I think they (St. Mary's) were helped by having played a number of Division I teams and knowing what it was like to be behind."
Against the Gaels, Hope Grimm gave WWU a quick lead with an unassisted goal 3:20 into the game. But two minutes later Sue Caporicci tied it for St. Mary's, 1-1. Capricci's free kick at 14:30 set up Rae Garza's header for a 2-1 advantage. But eight minutes later, the Vikings' Annette Duvall scored with an assist from Karen Darby for a 2-2 tie at halftime.
The score remained deadlocked until 18 minutes remained when Caporicci scored again. In the final minutes, WWU missed on two outstanding opportunities. A pass from Cindy Gordon in front of the goal mouth was just out of Duvall's reach. And a shot by Paula French went through the St. Mary's goalkeeper's hands and hit the post.
Western finished the season 16-2-0, winning a second straight district title while outscoring the opposition, 75-10.
The Vikings played most of the 1984 season without Duvall, who was hampered by patella tendinitis in her left knee that had begun the previous spring. After leading the team in scoring with 28 goals in 1982 and 27 in 1983, she had just six in her senior season, seeing limited action in 10 games.
Six Hall of Famers help WWU to record streak
Five players and a coach from those talented teams in 1982 through 1984 were later named to the WWU Athletics Hall of Fame. They were forward Annette Duvall, who was inducted in 1994; midfielder Cindy Gordon (1999), forward Hope Grimm (1998), coach Dominic Garguile (1996), midfielder Paula French (2005) and forward Debbie Carter (2004).
They were all a part of the undefeated 1983 contingent, giving it more Hall of Famers than any squad for any sport in school history.
That quintet of players was on the WWU All-Century first and second teams for 1900-1999, along with six other players who competed for the Vikings on at least two of those teams. They included defender Kelly Billingsly (1982-85), defender Karen Darby (1983-85), midfielder Nancy Hartley (1981-84), defender Eileen O'Reilly (1982-85), midfielder Kelley O'Reilly (1981-84), and goalkeeper Jeanne McDonald (1982-85).
All that talent prompted some to call the 1983 squad, Western's "Dream Team."
Duvall, who was named Western's Player of the Century for 1900 to 1999, still holds school records for goals in a game (6), season (28) and career (61). During the 1982 and 1983 seasons, she scored one or more goals in 22 consecutive games. On Dec. 12, 1983, Duvall became the first WWU athlete to be featured in the Sports Illustrated Faces in the Crowd.
Duvall, a first-team All-American at WWU and a member of the Washington State Women's Soccer Association Hall of Fame, has gone on to coach high school girls soccer for 21 years and be director of athletics at six different high schools for the same amount of years. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree at WWU in 1985 and Masters of Science degree in Pedagogy at Seattle Pacific in 1989.
French scored 19 career goals and was a three-time Northwest Collegiate Soccer Conference all-star for WWU. While at Western, she played on a Cozars club team that toured Europe and placed second at the U.S. National Tournament in 1983. She also played on club teams that won two West Regional crowns and seven state championships and placed second at the U-19 national tournament in 1981. In 2005, she competed on a women's over-40 team that won the National Veteran's Cup Tournament held in Wilmington, NC. French, who obtained her bachelor's degree in sociology from WWU in 1985, is a purchasing agent for Aluminum Chartered Boats in Bellingham.
While coaching the Vikings, Garguile was in the midst of a 40-year teaching career, the majority at Fairhaven Middle School in Bellingham. He took the WWU coaching position in 1981, the same year that women's soccer became a varsity sport for good. The Vikings had also attained varsity status in 1979, but went back to being a club sport in 1980. During his 10-year career at Western, Garguile posted a 106-43-12 record, reaching post-season play nine times and coaching 15 All-Americans.
Gordon, who scored 50 goals and had 26 assists during her career at WWU, was recently named (July, 2016) to the Washington Youth Soccer Top 18. As part of the 50th Anniversary of Washington Youth Soccer, a panel of long-time Washington Soccer experts selected a roster of the best 18 women's players the state has ever produced.
Gordon was a member of the 1985 United States women's national soccer team which became the first such squad to play internationally, competing in four matches at Jesolo, Italy, at the Mundialito tournament (unofficial Little World Cup), losing three and tying one. A national women's soccer team had been selected in 1982, 1983 and 1984, but never played together. In 1985, with interest growing in the sport, about 70 women, mostly players on collegiate teams,were invited to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to participate in the Olympic Sports Festival, the first time women's soccer was included among the events. At the end of the festival, while sitting on the field, a team of 17 players was selected by coach Mike Ryan. All of the players were under 25 years of age. The team practiced for three days, some of them in a cow pasture, at the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University. They were issued men's practice uniforms. They sewed "USA" decals on the front of their shirts the night before they flew to Italy. Team members were each given a pair of cleats and $10 a day for food.
The Italians greeted the American team enthusiastically and chanted "Ooosa!" (USA), a pre-game chant that the U.S. team adopted for itself. The U.S. team responded by leading a cheer for the Italian team during a game ... The Americans were unaccustomed to the large and enthusiastic crowds, numbering several thousand people, attending the games.
In their first match on Aug. 18, 1985, the Americans, accustomed to a polite women's game as it was then in the United States, were out-played by an experienced and physical Italian team and lost 1-0. On Aug. 21, the U.S. team tied Denmark, 2-2, but then lost to England and to Denmark in a rematch.
Gordon, who in 1986 obtained her bachelor of science degree at Western in Bio-Chemistry, went on to work as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist (26th year) in the Biochemical Genetics Laboratory at Seattle Children's Hospital. In 1998, she played on an over-30 team that won the U.S. Adult Soccer Association national title.
Grimm, a second-team All-American, scored 31 goals and had 20 assists during her career at WWU. She had a then school-record 12 assists in 1984.
Grimm obtained a degree in criminology and went on to become a purchasing agent for Overlake Hospital in Bellevue.
Carter helped the Vikings to three district titles and three regional playoff appearances from 1983 to 1986, the Vikings going 53-12-2 during that four-year span as she scored 32 goals and had 10 assists.
Carter was a first-team NAIA All-American in 1986, leading Western to a 13-4-2 record and third-place at the NAIA Region I playoffs. She also was a first-team district and Northwest Collegiate Soccer Conference all-star that season, scoring 11 goals and assisting on six others.
Carter received her bachelor's degree in accounting from WWU in 1987 and is a Certified Public Accountant. She competed in the Chicago Marathon in 1993.
By Paul Madison who served 48 years as sports information director at WWU from 1966 to 2015
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