Victorious Vikings Awarded GNAC Team Of The Week
The Vikings finished the regular season on top of the conference table and enter this week's GNAC Championships as the tournament's top seed.
The Vikings finished the regular season on top of the conference table and enter this week's GNAC Championships as the tournament's top seed.

Monday, October 29, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. – Winners of four consecutive matches heading into the final week of October, the Western Washington women's soccer team entered its last two matches knowing that six points could clinch a regular season championship.

The Vikings did just that, going on the road to topple Northwest Nazarene and Montana State Billings en route to the conference crown. The victory over the Nighthawks came via a 2-0 shutout before topping the Yellowjackets in thrilling fashion two days later to earn the title and selection as the GNAC Team of the Week.

Head coach Travis Connell’s team was led by forward Zoe Milburn, who tallied both of WWU’s game-winning goals on the week. Goalkeeper Natalie Dierickx shined as well, recording her 14th and 15th wins of the season while not allowing a goal in over 145 minutes of action.

Dierickx has been one of the top keepers in the country this season, coming in at No. 12 nationally in goals against average at .409. The sophomore is also ranked 17th in Division II and second in the GNAC in save percentage at 0.875.

With both matches coming down to the wire, a focus on intensity for all 90 minutes was needed to secure the six points needed to finish on top of the GNAC table. Western Washington got just that, keeping a clean sheet in Nampa and then holding on late to stave off MSUB.

“We were road-tested last week with two tough matches, but the team was resilient and battled until the end to get two quality results,” said Connell. “That put is in a great position to win the GNAC regular-season title. It’s always one of our program goals to win that title, so hats off to the players for their dedication and hard work to continue a proud tradition for our team.”

The first-place finish was secured with marked improvement throughout the year, something that the team has really focused on throughout the campaign.

“It has been a season in which we have challenged ourselves to get better with each practice and each competition,” Connell said. “The competition in Portland for the GNAC Championships will be great, and we are looking forward to the challenge that starts Thursday as we head into the postseason.”

By virtue of that first-place finish, the Vikings earned the No. 1 seed for the GNAC Championships. The team currently sits at No. 15 in the United Soccer Coaches Top-25 poll and is ranked second in both the NCAA and United Soccer Coaches West Region rankings.

The team will kickoff the month of November on Thursday in its GNAC Championships semifinal contest against fourth-seeded Simon Fraser. The match is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. at Tuominen Yard in Portland.