Malia Maack, a sophomore from Spokane, Washington, is a defender that transferred from New Mexico Highlands University this spring. Ashley Homer, a junior from Puyallup, is a goalkeeper who played her first two seasons at the College of Saint Rose in New York. Savanna Moorehouse, a senior from Bonney Lake, is a midfielder that transferred from Central Washington University last year.
All three reached out to Western after showing interest in playing closer to home.
“There are a number of rules that govern transfer students,” Head Coach Travis Connell said. “If you’re in Division II we have what’s called a one-time team transfer waiver, so as long as the other school that they’re leaving signs off on it and allows it then they can participate right away.”
Moorehouse trained with the Vikings last season, but was unable to compete in any games due to conference restrictions.
Connell is hopeful that the three transfers will make a positive impact in the upcoming season.
“They all have experience at the college level which you can’t really prepare for,” Connell said. “They know what the level is and they know how to prepare for it and so that’s a huge advantage.”
Last season, the team graduated three seniors, lost one player to injury and two transferred to other schools.
“We’ve also changed our formation and our style of play this spring and so, for only graduating three kids, we’ll look so much different from last year which is a little bit of a gamble,” Connell said.
Connell said the spring has gone really well as the team makes these changes.
Sierra Shugarts, a sophomore from Federal Way and returning defender, believes the new girls will help the team this year.
“We had a really strong spring season and I believe the new girls will benefit us immensely by keeping us hungry for a national championship,” Shugarts said in an email.
Maack is a strong defender who is expected to give the team more depth in the back line, Connell said. She is a versatile back, able to play outside or center, which gives Connell many options as to how to utilize her, he said.
“I expect her to contribute goals and assists and be dynamic in the attack as a creative player,” Connell said.
Shugarts said she is very excited for Moorehouse to be able to play in the coming season.
“She is an outstanding player and will definitely impact our team and take us to that next level we need to be at,” she said. “We lost some creativity up top [to injury] and I think [Moorehouse] will bring that creativity back.”
Homer was ranked fifth in the country for Division II goalkeepers in goals against average last year.
“We kind of have an embarrassment of riches in that position,” Connell said. “The number three ranked keeper in the nation was our keeper [Ashley Haden] and she’s returning, so [Homer] gives us depth and will push [Haden], our returning goalkeeper, to be the best that she can be.”
Connell said he believes it’s a good thing when the team has competition for positions and starting spots, which the team will have this season.
“We can make things a lot easier on ourselves [this season] if we can win the games right at the beginning of the season, we’re kind of front-loaded with some big time games and so that’s a challenge” Connell said. “We have to play our best right from the get go.”
Getting the new players, transfers and freshmen alike firing on all cylinders early in the season is Connell’s first goal as it will help the team return to the national championships, he said.