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Western Washington Lands Playoff Spot, Team of the Week
Western Washington won a close match with MSUB and shutout Northwest Nazarene for its two victories last Thursday and Saturday.
Western Washington won a close match with MSUB and shutout Northwest Nazarene for its two victories last Thursday and Saturday.
Catherine Miles scored three of the Vikings four goals last week.
Catherine Miles scored three of the Vikings four goals last week.

Monday, October 20, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. - Two wins last week has clinched the Western Washington women’s soccer team a GNAC tournament playoff spot while earning the Vikings Red Lion Hotels GNAC Team of the Week honors.

Three goals, six assists, eight saves and six points in the standings came out of the week, solidifying that the Vikings (8-0-2 conference, 12-0-2 overall) couldn’t finish lower than fourth in the final standings.

The top four teams advance to the GNAC tournament Nov. 6-8 at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.  The winner of the tournament will receive an automatic berth in the NCAA West Regional, which begins the following week.

Western Washington, which has yet to be beaten this year, nearly lost its first game Thursday night against Montana State Billings.  

Down 1-0 against then second-place MSUB with less than 3:30 to go in regulation, Elise Aylward made a free kick from 25 yards out and Catherine Miles headed the ball in for the equalizer.

“We have scored late in a lot of games, but have consistently created chances to score,” head coach Travis Connell said. “We have tremendous depth and want to get better and better every game. Catherine Miles has been a big part of that recently. Her form is really good right now and she’s helping us score on a lot of those chances.”

Miles, the GNAC Offensive Player of the Week, also scored the game winner a few moments later in overtime as she dribbled past a defender and took a shot from 16 yards out.

That was WWU’s fifth overtime match of the season. In those games the  Vikings are 3-0-2.  

“It was a really important win,” Connell said. “MSUB has been one of the better teams in the conference this year and it’s huge for us to get a win like that.”

The defense dominated in the team’s second game of the week, shutting out Northwest Nazarene 2-0. Goalie Ashley Haden made six stops on the day, recording her fourth shutout this season.

The Vikings scored early as Miles received a pass from Jessica Bertucci that landed in the goal in the fifth minute. Bertucci later scored on an assist by Aylward in the 25th minute to add on to her three goals this season.

Entering last week, WWU ranked in the top five in the country in goals against average, save percentage and shutout percentage while leading the conference in goals allowed The goal MSUB scored was only the fourth given up by the Vikings this year.

Even though the Vikings have clinched a playoff spot, they are not slowing down as they approach the last few games of the season.

“We want to get better as the season goes on,” said Connell. “We are consistently placing goals on ourselves. Our players do a good job of motivating and pushing each other to reach these goals and to continually get better.”

Western Washington will continue its final home-stand of the season on Thursday against second-place Seattle Pacific before hosting third-place Central Washington on Saturday.

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