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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Women’s soccer eyeing return to national stage

Emily Nelsen (left, 13) defends her keeper during the match with Metropolitan State University of Denver on September 8th, 2018. // Photo by Kelly Pearce

By Anna Kasner

The Western women’s soccer team got off to a fast start to its new season, winning five of its first seven games.

While they were in California, the Vikings were scheduled for a rematch against the team that knocked them out of the 2017 NCAA DII Tournament, the University of California, San Diego.

The Vikings went on to lose that match 1-0.

The women’s soccer team won the 2016 NCAA DII national championship. They’re aiming to win another by not only working hard during practice, but also putting in work outside of practice.

“It’s not a game you can take off even if we’re playing the last place team in the league,” senior defender and co-captain Annaliese Laurila said. “We still have to work on the game to get better and just improve as much as we can.”

Last season, the Vikings led the Great Northwest Athletic Conference with 55 goals scored, 14 shutouts and a 0.397 goals against average.

“We have a very balanced team,” head coach Travis Connell said. “We have a lot of great attacking weapons. We are coming up with one of our best defensive years and have a lot of returning players on the back line. We will have a very balanced team that can attack and defend.”

Returners are coming into the season determined and motivated. Gabriela Pelogi is going into her senior season with 36 career goals ­— the sixth highest amount in Western history.

Not only does the women’s soccer team work together on the physical side of the game, but it also spends time together outside of its training

The Vikings use team bonding as a way to build trust and chemistry between players, which helps build good relationships while on the field.

“We definitely pride ourselves on having that good relationship, so that when we get on the field, we trust each other,” Dierickx said.

The team lifts weights or runs together to get into shape and bond outside of practice.

Some of the players coach for the Whatcom Rangers, a premier soccer team in Bellingham. Coaching builds teamwork and leadership skills, so the players can take those skills to compete on the soccer field.

New to the team for the 2018 season are freshman forward and midfielder Mia Powers, freshman forward Dayana Diaz, freshman midfielder Caylie Etherington, freshman goalkeeper Claire Henninger and a sophomore transfer from Texas Woman’s University, defender Tivona Tinsley.

Diaz, from Granite Falls, Washington, said she is looking forward to spending her collegiate career at Western.

“They gave me an opportunity, and I just took it. I really like the campus because it reminds me of my home,” Diaz said. “This is a family that I would love to spend the next four years with.”

As the Vikings continue to train for the upcoming season, they’re eager to head back onto the field to play together again.

“I really miss my teammates and coaches, so I’m excited to be back with them,” sophomore midfielder Darby Doyle said. “I’m excited to see how far we make it into the tournament. Just getting back and working and building on how far we make it as a team.”

The Vikings first home game was against Holy Names University on Thursday, Sept. 6, where they came out with a 4-0 victory.

Western went on to win five of its first seven games including victories over nationally ranked Metropolitan State University of Denver and Colorado School of Mines.


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