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Thursday, July 9, 2020

Men’s soccer breaks losing streak

By Ian Haupt

“Go Viks, go!” echoed across campus as Western students sporting blue and white around their necks walked to Robert S. Harrington Field to watch the Vikings defeat the Concordia University Cavaliers on Saturday, Sept. 29.

Western Washington University men's soccer player Stephen Jinneman heads the ball during a game against Concordia
Western Washington University men’s soccer player Stephen Jinneman heads the ball during a game against Concordia on Sept. 29, 2018 in Bellingham, Wash. Western won the game 2-0 to move to 1-2 in conference play. // Photo by Oliver Hamlin

The 2-0 victory against the Cavaliers pulled the Western men out of a losing slump, giving them an overall season winning record of 5-4 and 1-2 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Head Coach Greg Brisbon said he’s hoping to improve consistency in his team.

“We got one win,” Brisbon said. “Can we get two in a row? That’s the next question.”

The Saturday game was a March to the Match event, where students gathered at the Wade King Student Recreation Center before kickoff to receive free blue and white scarves to show spirit during the match. Members of the Western cheerleading squad led the charge as the group marched down to Harrington Field, chanting along the way.

Despite the light rain that began to fall during the first half, the weather was no match for the dedicated fans. They poured into the stands to support the Vikings, with cheers echoing throughout the entire game.

The Vikings passed the ball well in the first half in spite of the wet conditions, forcing the Cavaliers to play a defensive, counter-attacking style of game play.

In the 17th minute, Western’s junior forward Ryan Schaefer made a risky run into the box. With a quick turn, Schaefer found senior midfielder Drew Barker near the penalty spot placing Barker in the perfect location to hit the ball into the lower left corner of the net, giving the Vikings a 1-0 lead.

“I knew to hit it!” Barker said after the game with a smile and chuckle.

The goal was Barker’s first of the season.

As the rain continued and fatigue set in during the second half, the Vikings lost their  passing game. Barker said the Cavaliers started pressing them in the second half, which forced the Vikings to play direct and quick. The match turned into a back-and-forth contest.

The second goal that cemented the Vikings’ victory came in the 52nd minute from freshman midfielder Teagan Eldridge. Eldridge took advantage of a loose ball dropped by the Cavaliers’ goalkeeper, and with the keeper on the ground, he confidently put the ball into the back of the net.

With the minutes winding down, the stands only seemed to get louder as fans leaving the women’s volleyball game that had ended shortly before joined the crowd. Energetic, shirtless students with the word “SPORTS” painted on their chests brought up the energy in the stands as they entered the stadium.

The victory over Concordia leaves the Western men’s soccer team with nine GNAC conference games remaining before the NCAA Division II Championships.

The men’s soccer team will be on the road in the upcoming weeks as they travel to MSU Billings on Thursday, Oct. 4 to take on the Yellowjackets.

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