Contact: Mark Albanese, Director of Sports Communication
TACOMA, Wash. – The Pacific Lutheran University women's soccer team inched one step closer to securing its second consecutive Northwest Conference title on Sunday afternoon, sending off its nine seniors in style with a 2-0 victory over Whitworth University in the home finale at East Field.
On a day spent honoring the accomplishments of a senior class that has mounted a 60-12-7 overall record and a 36-2-2 mark at home, it was fitting it was a pair of seniors who would tally goals in the shutout win, the 55th instance over the past four seasons the Lutes (15-3, 12-2 NWC) have kept their opponents off the scoreboard.
Kaylie Rozell opened the scoring just 10 minutes into the game, finding the back of the net off a feed from Machaela Graddy while Graddy padded the PLU advantage in the 27th minute, scoring her team-leading 10th goal of the season.
"That's the best senior day we've had," said Head Coach Seth Spidahl. "It's the most controlled performance that we've had. There's a lot that goes into senior day from everyone, from the other players, the seniors, the families, and there's a lot of emotions spent outside the game, so really really proud of the team today. This senior group was the most focused I've seen on a senior day and I'm proud of them."
PLU's defense limited the Pirates (11-6-1, 10-3-1 NWC) to just four shots on goal with Natalie Robinson securing her 14th clean sheet of the season.
In addition to the Graddy and Rozell, fellow seniors Blakely Sanders, Kelsey Hathaway, Megan Anderson, Taylor Lunde, Kristi Kaneta, Hailey Smoot, and Ashley Mindnich were all honored prior to the match.
The victory gives PLU the inside track for its second straight NWC crown, owning a four-point lead over rival University of Puget Sound (10-2-2 in NWC) with two matches left in the regular season.
"We talk about our process all the time, we got to stay focused on it, and the job's not done. Today was a big result but we still have work to do and have to have another good week of practice and try to continue to improve on little things as much as we can to finish off the season strong this week in Oregon. Nothing really is going to change on our end, we want to continue to improve every day and grow closer as a team and its exciting to have everything to play for the last weekend of the season."
PLU is back on the pitch on Saturday, facing George Fox University at 11 a.m. in Newberg, Oregon.