Morgan, Shannon back for one more go
Aug. 28, 2010
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
BEN FLETCHER - THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
Peanut butter and jelly. Batman and Robin. The pick and roll.
Where you find one, you'll usually find the other.
The duo's days of bowling over opponents with their brand of double trouble dates back to youth soccer with the Whatcom Rangers, and continued through stellar prep careers at Bellingham High School.
This fall, Morgan and Shannon will team up once again - and quite possibly for the last time. They'll spend their senior years for the Western Washington women's soccer team paired up top as forwards in a 4-4-2 alignment.
History tells us something good is bound to come out this.
"There were games where I felt Molly and I could do no wrong up top together," Morgan said, referring to her junior year at Bellingham, when she and the sophomore Shannon were paired up top and scored in bunches.
This fall, the Vikings are hoping the two will connect to produce similar magic. The team has played with three forwards up top the last three years. But Western coach Travis Connell plans to pair the two alone at forward to take advantage of their chemistry.
"They're at their best when they play together," Connell said in a prepared release. "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."
Plus, these gals are proven. Their coach has seen them do it before.
Both players have already put their stamp on Vikings' soccer. Morgan's two goals and two assists last year were down for her, but she was an all-region and first-team GNAC pick as a freshman and sophomore. Shannon, twice a second-team all-GNAC selection, emerged last fall with seven goals and three assists for a team-high 17 points, good enough to earn an all-region nod.
At Bellingham High, the duo was nearly unstoppable. Morgan, who missed several games during her senior season due to a knee injury suffered while playing basketball, recollects the two combined up top for 40-50 goals her junior year. The team finished 17-2-1.
"We work really well together," Shannon said. "We both have our strengths and we're able to play off each other."
This fall, opponents won't be surprised to find out Shannon is powerful in the air, and that Morgan has a wicked shot. But there's still plenty of unknown with this team.
That's what nine incoming freshmen will do. Connell said his squad is "probably the youngest since I've been here," but he still has high expectations.
"We have a lot of talent in this freshman class and I expect them to come in and contribute," the coach said.
Helping to solidify the unit is Alicia Patten, a junior defender who was a second-team all-West Region selection last fall. She'll be joined in the back by junior Emily Warman and sophomore Keller Haden, both starters from last year's impressive 11-4-4 team. Sophomore goalkeeper Jamie Arthurs, the likely starter in goal, also has some starts from last season under her belt.
In midfield, Justina McDowell and Megan Chapin have experience and will likely form a speedy duo of outside midfielders.
But much of Western's mojo this fall will still rely on the Morgan-Shannon connection. Connell said the duo has an "uncanny knowledge" of what the other player will do. He can easily live with that.
"They have a history of coming through for us," Connell said.
Morgan said she's primed to recover the production lost to a junior year that had her struggling for confidence early on, especially after playing for the Seattle Sounders women's team this summer with some former Western teammates.
"This is the sharpest I've felt coming into a season," said Morgan, a recreation major at Western.
Shannon, who once graduated wants to use her soccer experience to work with people with disabilities, is equally motivated.
"Personally, just being a senior, I really want to be able to have as good a year as last year if not better," she said.
One thing's for sure: The duo's final year together will be the end of an impressive run.
Like ketchup and mustard, before barbecue sauce came along.
"It's been great to have someone to share it with that long," said Shannon. "They understand you and they understand where you're coming from."
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