With the Northwest Conference regular season officially finished for every fall sport except football, which will conclude this weekend, the results of Pacific Lutheran University’s varsity sports teams were decidedly mixed.
For some, it was more of the same. For others, it’s back to the drawing board.
While the NWC tables in volleyball, football and men’s and women’s soccer speak for themselves, I’ll give my two cents from a fan’s perspective, complete with ratings and all.
Lets take a look at how our teams finished, starting with the team that was almost the Hollywood story of the season: women’s soccer.
Coming off a third-place finish in 2013, head coach Seth Spidahl and the Lutes entered 2014 armed with a strong core of returners and some quality recruits.
In a season that promised so much, the Lutes are left with a bitter taste in their mouths after two heartbreaking losses in their last two games saw them drop from first to a familiar — and unwanted — third.
While it looked for so long that a first conference title since 1992 would be heading to Parkland, the Lutes couldn’t get the results they needed.
It wasn’t all bad, though, and the team’s first win against University of Puget Sound since 1998, a 3-1 result at PLU’s East Field, was the highlight of a good season.
At 14-5-1 overall and 12-4 in conference, they earn a B+.
NWC, be wary of Lutes in 2015.
With the men’s soccer team sitting dead center in the NWC table with one game left in the season, Willamette University’s head coach, Lloyd Fobi, reportedly told PLU head coach, John Yorke, that the PLU team played some of the best soccer in the whole conference.
Despite Fobi’s praise and agreement among other coaches in the league, the Lutes finished dead even in the table and in their record.
Fourth place at 7-7 in NWC, 10-10 overall, it was a rebuilding year for the Lutes after losing eight seniors in 2013 and returning only four in 2014.
More than half of the team, 18 out of 30, are sophomores or younger, and Yorke and the rest of the coaching staff are sure to note the play of first-years Eddie Na and Bennet Bugbee as the bright spot in a frustrating season.
Na’s seven goals and five assists were vital to the Lutes, and Bugbee’s three goals and six assists mean that the future is bright.
Inconsistent probably sums up the team’s season best.
Saving the best for last, the PLU volleyball team was the only side to win conference, and they made it a three-peat with their sixth consecutive sweep over the weekend.
Although PLU is technically tied with Whitworth with a 14-2 NWC record, the Lutes were simply a class above the rest.
The numbers were impressive: eight wins and zero losses at home, 11 sweeps in 16 NWC games, 21 wins out of 25 games played overall and a fourth conference title in the last six years means volleyball is, without a doubt, the most successful varsity sport at the university in recent years.
The highlight in a near perfect year? Seventeen sweeps out of 25 total games played showed that the Lutes were a complete team in all aspects of the game.
Winning the conference outright would have been an A+, but perfection is hard to come by.
Overall, another dominant season results in an A.
And, now, bring on the winter.