WWU opens defense of GNAC crown on road
Sept. 17, 2013
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - The Western Washington University women's soccer team begins defense of its Great Northwest Athletic Conference title on the road this weekend, traveling to Northwest Nazarene University on Thursday, Sept. 19 (2 p.m.), and to Montana State University Billings on Saturday, Sept. 21 (4 p.m.).
The Vikings (3-0-0), who moved up three spots to No.4 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll, remained undefeated with a pair of home wins last week, defeating Notre Dame de Namur 2-0 and Dixie State 3-0.
Forward Kristin Maris, who earned All-America honorable mention last year, scored goals in each of the Vikings' wins last week. Catherine Miles (So., Anacortes) had a goal and two assists, and Elise Aylward (Fr., Renton/Lindbergh) added two assists.
Defender Brianna Jones (Jr., Bonney Lake) received GNAC Defensive Player of the Week honorable mention. She scored the first goal against Dixie State.
Alyssa Beauchamp (Sr., Mountain View) has been WWU's goalkeeper in all three shutouts, making seven saves.
NNU is 1-2-0, coming off a 2-0 home win over College of Idaho after opening the season with two 1-0 road losses to San Francisco State and Dominican. The Crusaders are led by Jenny Field, who scored a team-high seven goals in 2012, and second-team GNAC all-star defender Katie Butler.
MSUB did not play last week following a 0-0 overtime tie versus Dixie State. The Yellowjackets, who finished 13-6-1 in 2012, are paced by Heidi Greenback, a second-team GNAC all-star who scored a team-best eight goals a year ago.
WWU has series advantages of 25-1-1 over NNU and 10-3-2 over MSUB. Last year, the Vikings posted a pair of shutout wins over both teams, 4-0 and 2-0 against NNU and 3-0 and 2-0 versus MSUB.
The Vikings have blanked NNU in each of their last six meetings. WWU, coached by Travis Connell (11th year, 124-59-19), won both the league's regular-season and tournament championships in 2012. The Vikings finished 19-4-0, the win total being a school record, and reached the title game of the West Regional.
NOTES: Midfielder Ashton Griffen (Sr., Duvall Cedarcrest) earned GNAC Defensive Player of the Week honors for her effort versus UC San Diego, and Jessica Bertucci (So., Bellingham/Sehome), who scored the winning goal just over a minute remaining, received GNAC Offensive POW honorable mention.
Great Northwest Athletic Conference
Women's Soccer: WWU Cracks Top 5 in National Poll
PORTLAND, Ore. - Western Washington has risen to No. 4 in the latest National Soccer Coaches Association national rankings released Tuesday morning.
The Vikings, who are also ranked No. 1 in the NSCAA west region poll, began the season ranked No. 12 nationally before moving to No. 7 in last week's poll, and haven't allowed a goal yet this season as their record sits at a perfect 3-0.
Seattle Pacific, which has shut out its opponents in three straight victories, just missed being in the NSCAA top 25 as it also received votes, but was recognized as the No. 5 team in the NSCAA west region poll.
AHEAD: WWU will be tested on the road this week as the Vikings head to Nampa, ID on Thursday to take on NNU and continue on to Billings, MT on Saturday in a bout on MSU Billings' home turf.
The Yellowjackets and Crusaders will both also host Simon Fraser this week.
Central Washington welcomes Saint Martin's to Ellensburg on Thursday and hosts Western Oregon on Saturday in what proves to be a pair of competitive conference matches.
Seattle Pacific will look to continue its three-game winning streak as it hosts WOU on Thursday and travels to SMU on Saturday.
EIGHT SHUTOUTS CLOSE PRESEASON:
Great Northwest Athletic Conference teams were outstanding from top to bottom in the final week of preseason play, going 8-1-2 collectively last week against non-conference opponents.
The strong performance was highlighted by Western Washington and Seattle Pacific each collecting a pair of shutout victories, as well as Montana State Billings, Saint Martin's, Northwest Nazarene and Central Washington all earning their first wins of the season.
The Vikings, which are now ranked _ in this week's National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, made quick work of guests Notre Dame de Namur and Dixie State, scoring in the first half of each contest and adding insurance goals in the second.
Kristin Maris (F, 5-9, Sr., Issaquah, WA - Issaquah) contributed her first two goals of the season - one in each game - and Elise Aylward (F, 5-9, Fr., Renton, WA - Lindbergh) provided two assists as the Vikings moved to 3-0 on the season.
Seattle Pacific proved it has the ability to match WWU step-for-step this season as the Falcons also notched 3-0 and 2-0 victories over the same two schools.
Laura Moore (F, 5-3, So., Kent, WA - Kentwood), who is ranked 15th in the nation with four goals this season, scored in both games for the Falcons. Fellow sophomore Emma Holm (M, 5-4, So., Kirkland, WA - Lake Washington) also scored in each match, adding the insurance goal in the 88th minute on Thursday against NDNU and getting the Falcons on the board in the 38th minute against DSU on Saturday.
No one had a better offensive performance than Kelli Bannerman (F, 5-5, Fr., Ferndale, WA - Ferndale) of Saint Martin's, as the striker posted the first GNAC hat trick of the season and more importantly helped the Saints win their first game of the season in a 4-0 victory over Holy Names on Thursday. For her effort the freshman was named GNAC Offensive Player of the Week.
For Northwest Nazarene head coach Mary Trigg the wait is over not only for her first collegiate win, but for the first goals scored under her command.
Lexi Fesenbeck (F, 5-4, So., Olympia, WA - Olympia) ensured the Crusaders would not suffer a third straight heart-breaking 1-0 defeat as she fed a cross to the head of Kelsey Martin (F, 5-2, Fr., Salem, OR - Sprague) for NNU's first goal and scored its second in the 2-0 victory over rival College of Idaho.
Western Oregon battled to two tough ties on Wednesday and Thursday before securing its second win of the season in a 2-0 triumph over Holy Names on Saturday.
The Wolves remain undefeated this season as its stellar defense has allowed just one goal. Kelsey Lindsey (GK, 5-5, Jr., Kula, HI - Kamehameha Maui) earned GNAC Defensive Player of the Week honors as she made seven saves and posted her first career shutout in Saturday's win.
The combination of Savannah Moorehouse (M, 5-11, Jr., Bonney Lake, WA - Bonney Lake) to Danielle Brandli (M, 5-4, Jr., Bellevue, WA - Interlake) came up big for Central Washington on Tuesday as the junior midfielders hooked up twice in the Wildcats' 2-1 overtime thriller over Eastern New Mexico. Brandli's goals were CWU's first two of the season.
MSU Billings closed out its preseason this week with a solid 2-0 showing over Mary as Heidi Greenback ( F, 5-7, Sr., Woodinville, WA - Woodinville) converted a penalty in the first half and Teegan Koster (M, 5-4, So., Sherwood, OR - Sherwood) added an insurance goal in the 82nd minute.
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