GNACSports.com
WOU Upsets WWU, Named Team of the Week
Western Oregon celebrates a 1-0 victory over No. 2 Western Washington in Monmouth, Ore., on Saturday.
Western Oregon celebrates a 1-0 victory over No. 2 Western Washington in Monmouth, Ore., on Saturday.

Monday, October 21, 2013

PORTLAND, Ore. – In a match featuring constant long crosses and set pieces, Saturday’s Great Northwest Athletic Conference women’s soccer showdown between No. 2 Western Washington and Western Oregon figured to be decided by a header goal from the team with the size advantage.

In the end however, it was the shortest player on WOU’s roster, Mariah Konyn, that scored the game-winning goal as the Wolves earned a 1-0 upset of one of the top teams in the nation.

“It was a really good ball by Brooke (Steinberg), it came up to me and I just kind of reacted,” said WOU’s Konyn, who stands just 5-foot-2, regarding her game-winning goal on Saturday. “We set high expectations of ourselves and expected to play well going into this game.”

The freshman came through when the Wolves needed her most, tucking a right-footed shot into the upper left corner of the net in the 44th minute to give WOU the edge heading into the break.

“We were still a little bit nervous in the first half but the goal settled us down a bit,” head coach Steve Ancheta commented on the momentum-shifting goal. “Any goal right before the half always helps, and we definitely looked a little better in the second.” 

In many ways, the match was a precursor for what promises to be an exciting GNAC Championship tournament. WWU has already clinched a spot in the tournament, and WOU must win just one of its remaining four contests to do the same. 

“We know they are a very good team and they were going to possess the ball a lot,” said Ancheta regarding the opportunity to face a potential tournament opponent. “They are so talented and have a great coaching staff, and we know they are going to be a handful wherever we might meet them.” 

In a matchup between two teams that pride themselves on defense, no one shined brighter than WOU goalkeeper Amanda Rose Johnson, who made six saves and took charge on countless crosses into the box by WWU. 

Johnson’s shutout on Saturday was her second of the week as she also helped WOU to a 2-0 victory over Simon Fraser on Thursday. Johnson’s performance earned her Red Lion Defensive Player of the Week honors, and she leads the conference with eight shutouts so far this season.

While the Wolves’ success this season has come in large part thanks to their outstanding defense, the leadership of Ancheta has attributed to a fresh winning mindset as well. Ancheta took over the program in 2011, as he was handed a team that finished in last place with a 3-15-0 overall record in 2010. The Wolves finished fifth under his command in 2011, and earned a bid to the inaugural GNAC Championship tournament last season with a fourth-place finish. 

“We’ve definitely made some great strides and tried to improve the program,” Ancheta said. “We are just so happy for a big win like this, and it’s going to help our confidence both going into the playoffs and as a program overall.”

With four games remaining, the schedule doesn’t get any easier for WOU. Next weekend the Wolves host a red-hot Central Washington team that has won four straight, and an equally strong Seattle Pacific squad, which has won two in a row to turn around a losing streak.

“This game definitely boosts our confidence,” Konyn said about Saturday’s win. “We just have to keep working hard and play like we have been playing for the rest of the season.”

Copyright ©2017 Great Northwest Athletic Conference. All Rights Reserved. GNACSports.com