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Lutes Open Conference at Defending Champion UPS

Lauren Larson pressures a Northwest University player.

THIS WEEK: Unbeaten Pacific Lutheran will take its 2-0 non-conference start across town to rival and Northwest Conference power Puget Sound on Thursday. Kickoff in the conference opener for both teams is slated for 4 p.m. at Baker Stadium. At noon on Sunday, the Lutes open their NWC home slate against the Pacific Boxers at PLU's brand new East Field.

LISTEN LIVE: Most PLU women's soccer home matches and some road contests can be heard on the internet by going to www.golutes.com, clicking on the Listen Live button on the right, and then clicking on the appropriate link. Veteran play-by-play announcer Landyn Rookard will be joined this year by color commentator Surafel Wodajo in bringing you the action.

SO FAR, SO GOOD: The Lutes have started out 2-0 this season with wins against Trinity Lutheran and Northwest College, marking the first time that the program has won its first two games since the 1998 team was victorious its first five contests. Last year's Lutes lost their opener and won the next two before finishing 4-13-1 overall, and before that the 2006 squad won its opener, lost the second game, and then won four in a row.

DETHRONING THE LOGGERS: Puget Sound has opened its 2012 season with a 1-2 overall record, beating Corban University, a member of the Cascade Collegiate Conference (NAIA), before dropping two straight matches against national powers Augustana (Ill.) and Wheaton (Ill.). The Loggers return sophomore Robin Vieira, who tallied seven goals last season, but who has yet to find the net in her first three matches. Freshman Amalia Acordia-Fey currently leads UPS with three goals going into conference play. The Lutes will seek to slow down a dynamic Puget Sound attack that led the NWC in goals just a season ago.

SERIES FAVORS UPS: Puget Sound has dominated Pacific Lutheran in women's soccer with 27 consecutive victories dating back to the Lutes' last win in the series, which came by a 4-1 score in 1998. At one point PLU won nine consecutive, those matches coming from 1988-93 when the Lutes not only owned UPS, they dominated NAIA soccer with three national title (1988, 89, 91) in five title-game appearances.

ABOUT PACIFIC: Following conference openers played on Wednesday afternoon, Pacific sits tied with Willamette and Whitworth atop the NWC standings. Pacific defeated George Fox 3-1 and is now 1-0 in conference and 3-0-2 overall. Goalkeeper Brittany Hartmann has a 2-0-2 record and an impressive 0.68 goals against average. Kaitlyn Harper and Kamryn Plechot, both of whom scored goals against George Fox, are tied for the team lead with two goals and two assists apiece. PLU has a sizeable 35-14-8 all-time series lead, but the Boxers have won five of the last six, with the other a 3-3 tie during the 2009 season. The Lutes have not scored a goal against Pacific in the last three meetings, including 2-0 and 1-0 scores in 2011.

PLU 1, NORTHWEST 0: Jamie Hoffman's shot off the post caromed off the keeper and into the goal, and Pacific Lutheran withstood a total of 18 Northwest University shots as the Lutes picked up a 1-0 non-conference women's soccer win on Monday afternoon in Kirkland. Hoffman, a freshman forward out of Kennedy High School, took a shot from about 10 yards out on the left side. Her blast that hit the opposite post, bounced off and hit Northwest keeper Patty Hughes in the back of the head before she could react. The ball then ricocheted into the goal. PLU keeper Marisa Gonzalez and her defense made the goal stand up. Gonzalez, who had seven saves in the match, made three of those in the second half. Northwest ended up with a total of 18 shots, 12 of those coming in the first half, with seven of them on goal. The Lutes, meanwhile, had 12 total shots, seven on goal, forcing six saves from Hughes.

NATIONAL LEADERS: Granted that it reflected only one match and came in the season's first NCAA Division III women's soccer statistical report, but it was still nice seeing a pair of Pacific Lutheran players atop their respective categories. The report, released on Tuesday of this week, shows PLU freshman forward Lauren Larson (University Place, Wash. / Curtis HS) at the top of the goals per game (3.0) and points per game (6.0) categories, while sophomore midfielder Hannah Bush (Tacoma, Wash. / Stadium HS) is the leader in assists per game (3.0). Larson scored three goals and Bush notched three assists in PLU's season-opening 4-2 win over visiting Trinity Lutheran on Friday, Sept. 7.

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