Written by Student Assistant Christian Bond
TACOMA, Wash. – Last month Lutes from the past met with present Lutes as the Northwest Conference Champion Pacific Lutheran University women's soccer team held its alumnae event to celebrate the program's history.
The PLU women's soccer program is filled with rich history. The Lutes are three-time National Champions, taking home titles in 1988, 1989 and 1991. Dr. Colleen Hacker was the team's head coach from 1981-1995. Still a professor in PLU's kinesiology department, Dr. Hacker appreciated the significance of the event.
"I think it was significant bidirectionally," Dr. Hacker said. "The relationship formed between the current players and past era of national champions. It had not happened before. It happened with individuals, but not en masse. I think it was wildly significant, special, important, memorable, impactful, and I hope it's really going to be a springboard for the returning players to say 'why not us'."
"It was a great experience," junior Katie Coronado said. "Being able to hear the stories from past players who were as successful as they were was really inspiring."
Standout scorer turned assistant coach Stacey Waterworth was on hand for the event. Waterworth is a co-holder to the most goals in a single game record with six, sharing the honor with Sonya Brandt. Waterworth is second in career points with 184 from 1983-86. During that time, she scored 74 goals and had 26 assists. Waterworth had a chance to interact with Machaela Graddy, who earned NWC Offensive Player of the Year in 2016 and 2017.
Plenty of program greats were in attendance in an effort to reconnect with PLU women's soccer. Former keeper Gail Stenzel was on hand. In 1987, she set a program record with 11 consecutive shutouts between the posts. Stenzel got to meet Natalie Robinson, who set a new program record with a 0.22 goals against average in 2017. Robinson's mark eclipsed Stenzel's goals against average from 1987 that was 0.24.
The encounters between student-athletes from the past and present are important, however head coach Seth Spidahl feels the stories shared from one generation to the next are invaluable to the current group.
"Having our current team listen to their stories and the adversity they faced back in that time and being able to rise up through anything and compete for National Championships," Spidahl said. "It made our current team feel very grateful for what they do have now. Also just how much fun the team had together and how they played for each other and their coach."
PLU (17-3-2, 13-2-1 NWC) won the NWC title for the second consecutive season during the fall and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.