Western Washington University women’s soccer’s undefeated streak ended at eight games following a 2-0 loss to Seattle Pacific in Great Northwest Athletic Conference action on Thursday, Nov. 2 at Harrington Field.
The loss clinched the GNAC regular season title for Seattle Pacific (12-2-4, 9-0-4 GNAC) and prevented a repeat for Western, which won it last year on its way to an NCAA Division II national title. The Vikings (10-4-4, 8-2-3 GNAC) lost a game for the first time in a month after going 7-0-1 in their previous eight.
Seattle Pacific entered the game in third place in the West Region, while Western was fourth. Each team came out with high energy and the Vikings went straight into pressing the ball. Both teams felt each other out early, and the first shot didn’t come until seven minutes in.
Seattle Pacific got the first big chance of the game in the 17th minute when Claire Henninger was caught off her line and the Falcons’ Chloe Gellhaus softly shot the ball past Henninger. Defender Asia Hardin came to the rescue, clearing the ball off the line.
Western Washington University's Payton Neal heads the ball on a corner kick against Seattle Pacific University. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)
The Falcons opened the scoring in the 19th minute when a ball over the top took an awkward bounce that landed in front of Falcons forward Jacqueline Blakeley, and she curled a long-range shot into the side netting.
Seattle Pacific kept the momentum for the rest of the first half. Junior captain and midfielder Lauren Snedeker’s composure dominated the middle of the field, and Western had trouble getting any possession. The Vikings were outshot 10-3 in the first period.
Western came out with a lot of fire in the second half. The team executed its press defense and kept the ball on the Vikings’ offensive end of the field.
Western head coach Travis Connell called the game a tale of two halves. Western controlled the tempo of the second half and outshot the Falcons 10-2.
Western Washington University's Claire Henninger gets a toe on a save in the Vikings’ 2-0 loss to Seattle Pacific University. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)
Sophomore forward Claire Potter nearly equalized the match when she ripped a right-footed shot into the bottom corner, but goalkeeper Mercedes Cullen got a fingertip on it to push it just wide.
After 26 minutes of solid Western play, the Falcons were able to double their lead.
Seattle Pacific got a corner and put the ball into a dangerous area. After a scramble for the knockdown, midfielder Taylor Krueger barely beat Henninger to the ball and finished it off to make it 2-0 in the 72nd minute.
“I actually like how we played today,” Connell said of the result. “We made a mistake on the first goal and conceded against the run of play in the second half.”
The Vikings made a lot of second-half adjustments, pleasing Connell.
Western has a lot to play for with the GNAC tournament coming up next week. Regardless of the last regular season game, the Vikings will be the second seed. Connell and the Vikings look forward to another potential matchup against the Falcons in the tournament.
“We found some matchups we have to exploit if we play them again,” Connell said, “and we just have to play our best.”
Western finishes up regular season play with a matchup against Montana State University Billings at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4 at Harrington Field. The GNAC tournament runs Nov. 9–11 at Tomlinson Stadium in Ellensburg, Washington.