2010 Women's Soccer Preview
Aug. 23, 2010
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Led by a dynamic pair of experienced forwards and an all-region defender, the Western Washington University women's soccer team will chase a return to the West Regional of the NCAA Division II National Tournament this fall that narrowly eluded the Vikings last season.
The Vikings, who reached the regional final in 2008, narrowly missed out on another post-season berth in 2009 when a tie in the final week of the season left them short of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship and automatic tournament berth.
Eleven letter winners return from that squad, which finished 11-4-4 overall and was second in the GNAC at 8-1-3. There is also a big group of newcomers, including nine freshmen.
Leading the returnees are senior forwards Claire Morgan (Bellingham) and Molly Shannon (Bellingham), and junior defender Alicia Patten (Seattle/Holy Names), a second-team Daktronics all-West Region selection.
Morgan and Shannon have played together in college, high school and even before that in youth leagues; and Western has moved to a 4-4-2 alignment to take advantage of their unique connection.
"They're at their best when they play together," said Western coach Travis Connell (8th year, 82-46-12). "They've played together since they were little kids, they know the other's tendencies, the runs they like to make. They can be a dynamic pair."
Morgan had just two goals and two assists last season, but was an all-region pick and first-team all-GNAC selection as both a freshman and a sophomore. In her career, she has 17 goals and 19 assists, with the latter mark ranking fourth in school history.
Shannon has been a second-team all-GNAC pick the last two seasons and an all-region selection as a sophomore. She had a team-high seven goals last year and added three assists for a team-high 17 points. She had eight goals as a sophomore, and has a total of 19 in her career.
Patten has been a starter in the back virtually from the day she arrived, starting 16 games, mostly as an outside back, as a freshman, then moving to center back last year. In addition to her Daktronics all-region honors, she was a third-team all-region selection by the National Soccer Coaches of America Association, and a first-team all-GNAC pick.
"Alicia has had two great seasons," Connell said. "She's the most experienced player we have in the back."
Two other starters return. Junior Emily Warman (Sedro-Woolley) started 17 games last season, and can play either center back or outside back. Sophomore outside back Keller Haden (Brush Prairie/Hockinson) started a dozen games.
The other spot in the back is open, with the possibility of a freshman filling a spot either in the center or outside.
"We'll be relying on someone new to start, but the good thing is that they'll be joining three players who can help them in the transition," said Connell.
The area thinnest in returning experience is the midfield. The top returnee is junior Justina McDowell (Bellevue/Sammamish), who had two goals and two assists last year. She'll join with junior Megan Chapin (Seattle/Garfield) to form a speedy duo of outside midfielders. Chapin is a transfer from Washington State, where she saw action the last two seasons.
"Justina has had a great off-season," said Connell. "She has the pace and ability facing goal to be a real attacking force. And Megan Chapin might be even faster than Justina."
In the central midfield, juniors Katie Griffith (Burlington/Burlington-Edison) and Jackie Thomas (Seattle/Kennedy) are the most experienced options. Griffith made seven starts last year. Thomas is a transfer from Chico State, where she earned two letters, starting 11 games last year.
Redshirt freshmen Katie Stauffer (Boise, ID/Capital) and Diana Pollock (Bellevue/Eastlake) are other central midfield options, and freshman Brina Sych (Vancouver/Union) could play almost any of the midfield slots.
Sophomore Jamie Arthurs (Richland) is the likely starter in goal. She made four starts last year, notching one shutout, and is coming off an outstanding spring season. Sophomore Alyssa Beauchamp (Vancouver/Mountain View) and freshmen Ashley Haden (Brush Prairie/Hockinson) and Kayla Beer (Mill Creek/Jackson) will also contend for time.
"We expect our freshmen class to contribute," Connell said. "We need that, and fortunately there's a lot of talent coming in."
The GNAC champion earns an automatic berth into the NCAA tourney, but Connell said that much of the hopes of being in contention for an at-large berth ride on the first week of the season, as Western plays three West Region rivals, visiting Chico State and San Francisco State, then playing host Humboldt State.
"Our expectations are to compete for the conference championship and a bid to the tournament," Connell said. "A lot will be decided in the first three games. With a lot of new players coming in, we'll have to solve the riddles quickly."
Western Washington Vikings Sidebar Links
|Email this article||Printer-friendly format|