Headed To Final Four, WWU Earns Team Of The Week
Before last week, Western Washington had never trailed in a match all season.
Before last week, Western Washington had never trailed in a match all season.

Monday, November 21, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. – Two come-from-behind victories for Western Washington women’s soccer mean a return to the NCAA semifinals and selection as this week’s Red Lion/GNAC Team of the Week.

The Vikings won their 21st and 22nd consecutive matches despite giving up the first goal both times for wins over UC San Diego and Colorado Mines in Golden, Colo. The wins send the Vikings back to the national semifinals for the third time in four years, where they will play Kutztown on Dec. 1.

Western Washington trailed 1-0 against UC San Diego for most of the West Region Championships final, but Gabriela Pelogi scored in the 53rd minute to tie the match and force overtime. Then, just over two minutes into overtime, Pelogi scored the golden goal to win the West Region title.

It was the Vikings second time beating UC San Diego this season and first time they faced a deficit this season. The Vikings wrapped up West Region play for the 2016 season with its 40-match unbeaten streak against regional opponents intact.

Western Washington made its second comeback win look much easier, beating Colorado Mines 5-1. It was the Vikings’ fourth win this season against a top-10 team and the second time scoring five goals in those wins. In total, WWU has outscored its top-10 opponents this year 15-4.

“We played two really good teams and were excited about going to Kansas City,” GNAC Coach of the Year Travis Connell said. “I feel great for our players. I’m happy that they get to do that and they certainly deserve it. It also just feels good to beat two tough teams. [The game against Colorado Mines] was much closer than the score indicated, so this was a great result for us.”

In the victory, the 200th of Connell’s career, Emily Webster recorded two assists on set pieces to become the GNAC’s season leader in assists with eight. The first assist was to Sierra Shugarts to even the score at 1-1 in the 11th minute.

“We practiced set pieces literally every day since the first day of practice,” Connell said. “It’s a weapon for us and it’s a big part of the win. You’ve got to be able to execute in those situations and we take a lot of pride in it and work extremely hard on it.”

Freshman forward Liv Larson scored the next two goals for the Vikings to take the lead for good. Larson, who lost her front teeth in the win over UCSD, has seven goals this year.

Western Washington will play its third semifinal match in the last four years on Dec. 1 against Kutztown at 9 p.m. (Central) in Kansas City. Kutztown was the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Region and advanced with a 2-1 win over Bridgeport, who the Vikings beat 5-0 earlier in the year.