By David Mair, General Writer
Pacific Lutheran University’s Women’s Soccer team went up against the Whitman Missionaries on Saturday at East Field, and despite taking the lead first, the Lutes ultimately fell 2-1 in its Northwest Conference game.
Prior to the match, the Lutes sat nicely atop of the NWC conference standings and was ranked 25th in the nation. Whitman, on the other hand, was only ranked fourth in the NWC conference, with a 4-2-2 record.
“Whitman played good on the day with one player scoring two special goals,” said PLU head coach Seth Spidahl. “We probably deserved a second goal to tie the game but it just didn’t happen. Sometimes that is just soccer.”
The Lutes came out strong with the whole team sporting pink socks in support of breast cancer. At the 10th minute of the game, sophomore forward Kaylie Rozell scored from about 10 yards out with the assist from first-year forward Kelsey Hathaway.
Unfortunately for the Lutes, after the goal the energy seemed to slip away as Whitman took control of the rest of the first half. In the 38th minute, Whitman scored, ending the first half tied at 1-1.
“They [Whitman] were really good at possessing the ball, they connected well with each other and were very fast,” Rozell said. “As a team I think we struggled a little bit in the end of the first half, but came back better in the second.”
To the dismay of the Lutes, the Missionaries came out even stronger in the second half, scoring almost immediately from about 18 yards out in the 53rd minute.
At the 87th minute, Hathaway went for what would be the final attempt on goal for that game and missed. The game ended with Whitman taking the win, 2-1.
“Even though we were down, we never stopped working hard as a team,” Rozell said. “I think we finished the game out strong even though we didn’t come out with the win.”
Despite losing its three point advantage atop the NWC, Spidahl found positives in the loss.
“I told the team the good thing about winning is you’re winning, and the bad thing is the target grows bigger with each win,” Spidahl said. “Sometimes we have to take a step backwards to continue to move forwards.”
The Lutes faced off against Whitworth the following day.
Under the blazing sun, the Pacific Lutheran University Women’s Soccer team was looking to get back to winning after its seven-game streak was snapped with a loss the previous day against Whitman.
The Lutes faced off against the Whitworth Pirates and came away with a 2-0 win Sunday.
Prior to the game, the team honored seniors Blake Warner and Hannah Bush for their contribution to the women’s team in a Senior Night ceremony.
“My attitude going into the game was just to play hard for each other and not to worry about losing the day before,” Bush said. “I thought losing sort of gave us a good idea of the challenges ahead and that other teams are going to come out hard for every game and we need to be ready.”
The Pirates maintained control at the start of the game, though the Lutes’ defense was enough to keep the Pirates from scoring. Closer to the end of the first half the Lutes finally got their sea legs, pushing back with great momentum. In the 25th minute, first-year forward Machaela Graddy took a great shot at goal.
Not long after, in the 31st minute, first-year forward Kelsey Hathaway saw her attempt at goal miss wide. While the Lutes couldn’t score a goal in the first half, they kept up consistent ball movement among each other.
Finally, in the 34th minute, sophomores Lena Moreno, defender, and Kaylie Rozell, assisted forward, in an amazing goal off a corner kick. The first half ended with PLU up 1-0. Throughout the second half of the game, the Lutes continued with great momentum and strong defense, leaving the Pirates unable to score at all for the rest of the game.
It didn’t stop there, though, for PLU. In the 80th minute forward Machaela Graddy won the ball from a defender and went on to beat the goalie, sealing the game for the Lutes at 2-0.
With the win, the Lutes are tied with University of Puget Sound for first place in NWC with a record of 8-2 and 10-3-1 overall. Whitworth fell to 3-8 in conference and 4-10-1 overall.
PLU will head south to Oregon to face off against George Fox, ranked seventh in NWC, on Saturday Oct. 25 and Lewis Clark, ranked fifth in NWC, on Sunday Oct. 26. Both games are at noon.
The Lutes have the potential to take a big step toward the NWC title when they host UPS at home on Oct. 29, something the team is getting ready for.
“We are very excited to take on UPS at home,” Warner said. “I think it’s our year to take the conference.”
Giancarlo Santoro contributed to this article