July 21, 2014
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
Playing its home games on campus for the first time since 2000, the Western Washington University men's and women's soccer teams are slated for 21 appearances -- 10 by the women and 11 by the men -- this fall at the newly completed Robert S. Harrington Field.
The men are first on the field with an exhibition on Aug. 23 against NCAA Division I Seattle University. The men play a second exhibition on the field at 2 p.m. Aug. 30 versus Trinity Western, followed at 6 p.m. later in that same day by an exhibition by the women's team against Calgary.
The women, who reached the NCAA Division II national semifinals in 2013, play regular-season home contests on Sept. 4 vs. Humboldt State, Sept. 15 vs. Notre Dame de Namur, Sept. 25 vs. Saint Martin's, Sept. 27 vs. Western Oregon, Oct. 2 vs. Simon Fraser, Oct. 16 vs. Montana State Billings, Oct. 18 vs. Northwest Nazarene, Oct. 23 vs. Seattle Pacific and Oct. 25 vs. Central Washington.
Those games are all GNAC counters with the exception of Calgary, Humboldt State and Notre Dame de Namur.
The women open their season with two road exhibitions, traveling to British Columbia on Aug. 22 and to Trinity Western on Aug. 27.
The Vikings have nine regular-season road contests on their schedule. They are Azusa Pacific on Sept. 8, Cal Baptist on Sept. 10, Central Washington on Sept. 18, Seattle Pacific on Sept. 20, Montana State Billings on Oct. 4, Western Oregon on Oct. 9, Saint Martin's on Oct. 11, Northwest Nazarene on Oct. 30 and Simon Fraser on Nov. 1. The Azusa Pacific and Cal Baptist encounters are not league counters.
The GNAC Tournament takes place on Nov. 6 and 8 at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.
The 2013 national semifinals marked the longest post-season run in school history for WWU. The Vikings finished 20-2-1, the victory total being a school record, and won GNAC regular-season and West Region championships.
Six starters and 13 letter winners return for coach Travis Connell (12th year, 141-61-20). Leading the returnees are 2013 GNAC Defender of the Year Brianna Jones (Sr., Bonney Lake), honorable mention Daktronics All-American forward Catherine Miles (Jr., Anacortes) and second-team Daktronics West Region all-star midfielder Kim Cooper (Sr., Bellingham).
WWU is working on a 20-game home winning streak after going 12-0-0 at Whatcom CC's Orca Field last year.
The men have an early season five-game home stand, playing host to Cal State East Bay on Sept. 13, Notre Dame de Namur on Sept. 15, Simon Fraser on Sept. 20, Northwest Nazarene on Sept. 25 and Montana State Billings on Sept. 27. The meetings with Simon Fraser, Northwest Nazarene and Montana State Billings are Great Northwest Athletic Conference counters.
WWU's final four home games, all GNAC contests, are with Saint Martin's on Oct. 16, Seattle Pacific on Oct. 18, South Dakota Mines on Oct. 30 and University of Mary on Nov. 1.
The Vikings have 10 road games, beginning with an exhibition at British Columbia on Aug. 26. Their regular-season trips are to Cal State L.A. on Sept. 4, UC San Diego on Sept. 6, Seattle Pacific on Oct. 2, Saint Martin's on Oct. 4, Mary on Oct. 9, South Dakota Mines on Oct. 11, Montana State Billings on Oct. 23, Northwest Nazarene on Oct. 25 and Simon Fraser on Nov. 8.
The men had one of the school's most successful seasons in 2013, finishing 11-4-3 overall and 9-2-3 in GNAC play. The campaign ended with a 3-0 victory over nationally No.2-ranked Simon Fraser.
Head coach Greg Brisbon (2nd year, previously WWU assistant for 12 seasons, eight as associate head coach) has eight starters back. They are led by goalkeeper Keegan Rogers (Sr., Portland, OR/Portland Christian), a third-team National Soccer Coaches Association of American West Region and second-team GNAC all-star who ranked 13th nationally in goals against average at 0.67 and save percentage at .848, and first-team all-league defender Troy McCarty (So., Snohomish), who scored four goals.
WWU has not played on campus since the 2000 season with its home games during the interim taking place at Civic Stadium in Bellingham, Pipeline Field in Blaine and most recently at Orca Field on the Whatcom CC campus.
Finally coming home: Robert S. Harrington Field brings WWU soccer back to campus
By ALEX BIGELOW
THE BELLINGHAM HERALD, August 16, 2014
For most Western Washington University soccer players, the last time WWU held a soccer game on campus was before their 10th birthday.
It was the year 2000, to be exact, a time when the Great Northwest Athletic Conference had yet to form and the Vikings were competing in the Pacific West Conference. Travis Connell, WWU's men's coach through the 2012 season and current women's coach, was co-coaching with Todd Stauber, and they had just come off an 8-9-0 season.
For the next 13 season, the Vikings called Pipeline Fields, the Northwest Soccer Park and most recently Whatcom Community College home.
Gone are those days.
On Saturday, Aug. 23, the men's soccer team will host Seattle University in the first true home game in more than a decade at the newly minted Robert S. Harrington Field, offering an experience many have long awaited.
"I'm loving it. We've been playing on it all week," senior keeper Keegan Rogers said in a phone interview. "Can't wait to have fans be here. We're really excited about it. We're trying to get a big fan base going, coming up with a group name. It's becoming a big thing."
WWU Athletic Director Steve Card, in an interview following his hiring in March, stressed the importance of having the multi-purpose field on campus.
It was his belief that the increased visibility would draw larger crowds.
"Bringing those on campus, having them here, people are going to come to games just because they can hear it - they can see it," Card said. "If it's out of sight, it's generally out of mind. We don't have to worry about that anymore. It's going to be here, and we need to capitalize on that."
Last season, the men's soccer team averaged 169 in attendance, while the women averaged 276 with all the home games being played at Whatcom CC. The women, though, were in the midst of a record-breaking 20-2-1 season in which they hosted the West Regional tournament before falling to West Florida in the final four.
The men, while not sharing the same level of success, had an equally-as-inspiring season, going 11-4-3 before falling just short of making the postseason.
Card, in his time as the AD after taking over for Lynda Goodrich in May of 2013, has sought to use the athletic program as a vehicle to drive perspective students to WWU. That philosophy has shown through with the increasing number of televised basketball games, both for the men and the women.
And while he admitted not yet knowing the full potential of the multi-purpose field in terms of televised games and so forth, it's an avenue that he will certainly pursue in the hope of gaining more outside exposure.
"If we remain status quo, we might as well be moving backward because our competitors are going to catch us," he said. "We can provide a tremendous amount of opportunities for the university as a whole in terms of the visibility we provide as a department - that window into the institution. Athletics can do that like no other."
In the short term, the players and coaches for the respective teams are excited to finally call WWU their home for good.
"It's fantastic. It's one of the best training and game facilities in the West Coast at any division level," WWU men's coach Greg Brisbon said in a phone interview. "They did a really good job with the field surface. Everything about it. It's almost perfect. We're excited."
Jeremy Wentzel, a starting midfielder for the men's soccer team, noted that the field plays playing surface is similar to that of Whatcom, albeit newer and less worn down.
"Because it's a brand new field, the turf is still sticking straight up and the ball isn't as natural as other fields," he said in a phone interview. "Whatcom is well known to be a larger field width wise. That played a big part in how we planned out this field."
Scott Harrington, an alumnus of WWU and son of Robert S. Harrington, along with his family donated $1 million toward the field. The WWU Board of Trustees unanimously voted to honor Scott's father and name the field after him.
In the upcoming season, the men will host 11 games while the women will host 10 - their first game being against Calgary on Aug. 30. For more information as to season tickets and game times, visit www.wwuvikings.com.