by Anesu Mujenge | Staff Writer
The women’s soccer team extended their unbeaten home record this season by beating second place outfit Pacific Lutheran 1-0 to climb to the top of the NCAA Northwest Conference with sixteen points.
From the onset, it was apparent that the top two sides in the conference were playing. Both sides fervently pressed each other as neither side managed to securely establish possession. The early intensity led to a rash challenge outside the Lutheran penalty area 10 minutes into the first half. Sydney Weiler,‘19, picked up a yellow card. Impressive physical fitness was on display as end to end offensive play characterized the game. Kelly Wucherer, ‘19, characteristically exploited gaps and was nearly rewarded for her industry but her finesse shot in the box curved agonisingly wide of the far post. Both midfields man-marked tirelessly whilst defence remained coordinated to keep the match scoreless at halftime.
Pacific Lutheran signalled their intent in the second minute of the second half with a great strike that was met by an equally adept save from goalkeeper Molly Webster,’19. The Pirates reciprocated the intensity with fluid offensive play. Rapid expansive passing led to a great cross from McKenzie Hemp, ‘18, to Leah Corra, ‘18, who guided the ball into the bottom corner of the net to put the Pirates 1-0 up five minutes into the second half.
“Coach Bo always talks about keeping the momentum up, and keeping the metronome high, and the goal definitely set the tone for our attitude, and everyone working hard together and for each other,” Corra said.
Confidence soared after the first Pirate goal. A goal mouth scramble minutes after nearly saw Corra net her second goal in the game and sixth in the season. Pacific Lutheran similarly upped their game with off the ball pressure forcing several misplaced passes amongst the Pirates.
The Pirate’s defence slowed the game’s tempo down with precise passing amongst themselves whilst the midfield and attack regrouped.
On left wing, Courtney Potter, ‘18, epitomized the Pirate ethos of teamwork with her lung-busting runs to interrupt Lutheran play. With Pacific Lutheran struggling to keep the ball, the Pirates attacked to defend. Right back Jadyn Baumgartner, ‘21, displayed her quintessential close control and offensive acumen in attacking the Lutheran defence. In all this, mental strength was key.
“Our whole backline is all about communication. Maintaining our shape really helped us, as we were able to keep our composure and keep possession, and even when we were pressed, we were able to one-and-two touch and make them (Pacific Lutheran) chase us while we managed the game,” Baumgartner said.
The Pirates were able to maintain their offensive edge to see off a tense finish to the game.
“We’re always looking to learn and grow. What we can take away from today is, even when we are not at our sharpest in terms of possession, we still have the ability to work hard and work for each other, and we still have a lot of great soccer ahead of us,” Coach Bryan Olson said.”
The Pirates remain undefeated at home and look to build on this performance as they play Whitman on Wednesday, Oct, to hopefully extend their lead at the top of the Northwest Conference.