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Friday, May 14, 2021

Women’s soccer heads to GNAC tournament

Western women’s soccer teams heads into this weekend as the No. 1 seed for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Tournament. With a nearly undefeated conference season, 11-0-1, the Vikings prepare to play competitively and intensely in the upcoming games, head coach Travis Connell said.

The GNAC Tournament will be hosted by Simon Fraser University Thursday, Nov. 5, in Burnaby, British Columbia. The Vikings will face Concordia University, Seattle Pacific University and Montana State University Billings.

If a team loses, it will be out of the tournament. This means all the teams the Vikings face will be highly motivated, Connell said.

The Vikings finished the GNAC regular season in first place with 11-0-1 and 16-1-1 overall. Last year, Western women’s soccer also finished the conference season undefeated.

The Vikings will face the same teams they play in the regular season, giving the opposing teams a strategy to know Western’s strengths, Connell said.

However, this also means Western knows how to prepare for the upcoming games, senior midfield Delanee Nilles said.

The Vikings want to work on scoring early. It is important not to underestimate teams they have beaten in the past, sophomore defender Sierra Shugarts said.

“We need to focus on playing our game and not playing down to our competition,” she said.

Western approaches each game as the toughest opponent and works to do their best, Connell said.

In the last two GNAC tournaments, Western has lost in shoot-outs, Nilles said. This year, the team is determined to avoid shoot-outs altogether.

The Vikings will also need to focus on their transition from offense to defense, Connell said.

In addition to working on gameplay, the team has to focus on keeping themselves healthy and managing injuries as they prepare for the upcoming tournament,  Shugarts said.

“We’re all working off each other and wanting to do better for each other,” Shugarts said.

Western is looking forward to the upcoming tournament, Nilles said.

Senior forward and midfielder Stephanie Hamilton kicks the ball toward the Northwest Nazarene goal during a match on Thursday, Oct. 29, at Robert S. Harrington Field. // Photo by Daisey James
Senior forward and midfielder Stephanie Hamilton kicks the ball toward the Northwest Nazarene goal during a match on Thursday, Oct. 29, at Robert S. Harrington Field. // Photo by Daisey James

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