Women's Soccer Heads South Seeking Victory, Redemption
THIS WEEK: As the Pacific Lutheran University women's soccer team tries to rebound from two hard defeats at home, a manageable weekend lays ahead as the team heads to Oregon to take on Willamette and Lewis & Clark. This trip will not only represent an opportunity to strike back against a Willamette University side that beat the Lutes at home earlier in 2011, but also provides the Lutes a chance to prove to the Northwest Conference coaches that they are better than predicted. At the start of the 2011 season, the NWC coaches slated the Lutes to finish bottom of the conference. This weekend will give the Lutes an opportunity to move up the standings and make a case for mid-table status at the end of the season. Both games will kickoff at Noon on Saturday and Sunday.
A LOOK AT THE 'CATS: With the midpoint of the conference schedule in the rear view, the Willamette University Bearcats are looking to press the top teams in the second half of 2011. The Bearcats are sitting on 19 points, 6-3-1 in NWC and 7-6-1 overall, and are currently fourth in the NWC table. Inconsistent form has plagued the Bearcats, playing to a scoreless draw with eighth place Lewis & Clark, yet turning around a beating a Linfield side, 3-1, that is on the cusp of being nationally ranked and is leading the NWC. The Bearcats are led by midfielder Stephanie Skelly, who has scored the second most goals in the NWC this season, netting 10 and assisting on one. In the first meeting between the Lutes and 'Cats, the Lutes fell 3-1 at home in mid-September, with Skelly scoring the opener and adding an assist on the third for the Bearcats. The loss took PLU's overall record against Willamette to 27-32-4. The Lutes will look to redeem this loss when they travel to Salem, Ore. on Saturday and pick up a much needed win against a quality side.
SCOUTING THE PIOS: On Sunday, the PLU women will take on Lewis & Clark College in a matchup with serious implications in the bottom half of the NWC standings. With just two points seperating the sides (PLU on six points in eighth and L&C on four in ninth), the game will help determine the true pecking order in the conference. Although the Lutes have finished higher than the L&C Pioneers each of the last seven seasons, the Pios were picked to finish above PLU in the pre-season poll of NWC coaches. With a record of 2-11-1 overall, 1-9-1 in conference, the Pios have scored just eight goals in 2011, with sophomore midfielder Sarah Breninger netting a team-high two of those. The Lutes won 2-1 on a Alex Murray header in overtime when the teams met earlier this season. The win made PLU's all-time record against L&C 29-4-2, a mark that the Lutes will seek to better with another win this Sunday. With a win, the Lutes could potentially jump into sixth place in the conference standings at the end of the weekend.
WHITMAN 3, PLU 0: Whitman scored three goals in the second half on the way to a 3-0 Northwest Conference women's soccer win Sunday afternoon over the host Pacific Lutheran Lutes at the PLU field. With the win, Whitman improves its overall record to 5-8-1 and its conference slate to 4-6-1. Pacific Lutheran is now 3-9 overall and 2-8 in the NWC. After a first half that saw PLU get off four shots to three for its opponents, the tide turned in a significant way in the final 45 minutes. Whitman peppered the Lutes defense with eight shots while giving up only two attempts on the other end of the field. Amy Hasson had bookend goals around a Taylor Chock tally for the visitors. Hasson broke the scoreless tie at 52:54, heading home from Jaclyn Rudd's corner kick. Less than three minute later, at 55:17 to be precise, Chock netted for the first time this season, one-touching Taylor Thomas' pass into the net. Hasson, the conference's leading goal scorer, got her second of the game and 11th of the season at 70:00 with the assist going to Hallie Swan. PLU keeper Laurie Reddy gave up the three goals but also had four saves in 72 minutes. Lauren Chambard finished the game and had one save. The Lutes put two of their six shots on goal, but Whitman keeper Emily Davis was there to collect those efforts. For Pacific Lutheran, the second half outburst by the visiting Missionaries has become a tough theme for the season. PLU has allowed 25 goals in 12 matches this season, and 20 of those goals have come in the second half. In addition, the Lutes were shut out for the seventh time and have scored just seven goals in the 2011 season.
WHITWORTH 2, PLU 0: Pacific Lutheran took nine of their 12 shots in the second half to put pressure on visiting Whitworth, but it was the Pirates who came away with a pair of goals to break a scoreless halftime deadlock in taking a 2-0 Northwest Conference women's soccer win at the PLU field on Saturday afternoon. The Lutes did not get a shot in falling to the Pirates by the same score back on Sept. 25 in Spokane. This match was much different, particularly in the second half when junior midfielder Mimi Granlund came in off the bench and helped the offense get untracked. Granlund has missed the majority of this season because of injury. PLU ended up putting three of their 12 shots on goal, but Whitworth goalie Callie Bergstrom was up to the task and saved all three efforts. Cory Druffel figured in both goals for the visitors, who broke the deadlock 4:51 into the second half when Druffel scored her first goal of the season on Jami Hegg's assist. Whitworth made it 2-0 at 61:23 when Druffel passed to Mackenzie Grow, who scored her second goal of the campaign into the upper right corner. Whitworth finished the match with 14 total shots, including six on goal, and it also enjoyed a 4-2 advantage in corner kicks. Laurie Reddy had four saves for the Lutes.
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