// Photo by Claire Ott
The No. 15 Western women’s soccer team, ranked at 7-2-0 on the season and 3-0-0 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference as of Oct. 9, beat Central Washington University in a 2-0 shutout on Oct. 3.
Blankets, sweatshirts, puffy jackets, hats and gloves covered the stands as a cold breeze swept over Robert S. Harrington Field, but that didn’t stop the crowd from cheering on the Vikings.
The blow of the whistle signaled the start of the match, sending both teams up and down the field, each thirsting for a goal. It took six minutes for the first goal to come, starting with a thrilling long pass down the sideline from freshman defender Makenzie Burks to redshirt senior forward Karli White, who then nailed the ball high up into the net.
“We always go into games with that mentality that we want to put teams away early, that we want to pressure early and quickly so that they’re on their heels, and we did that tonight,” White said.
Head coach Travis Connell stressed the importance of scoring goals and the mindset he wants his players to have.
“Scoring goals is hard, and it’s the hardest thing in soccer, so we are creating chances and we’re scoring more,” Connell said. “The key is you’re never content, and the players aren’t content, the coaches aren’t content. It’s a healthy hunger that we have to continue to score more goals.”
And they did score more. Senior forward Liv Larson scored from a shot off the post that turned into a scramble in the penalty box after a corner kick. The goal, assisted by junior midfielder Grace Eversaul, added another well-deserved point for Western to the board at the beginning of the second half.
During the game came a lot of chances to score once more. The corner kicks, passes up the middle and sidelines, and headers almost made it in.
“We know that all it takes is one goal to win a game,” Connell said. “It might be the third goal that you score in that game, but you always want to score the next goal.”
Yet, there are endless opportunities to learn and improve as each game goes by, something that is noticeable with the Western women’s soccer team.
“It was definitely a little bit frustrating during preseason when we were winning 1-0, and we had a lot of opportunities,” White said. “But we reflect after each game, and we know where to improve for the next. So, we have been approaching every game with a positive attitude and the idea that we want to score as many goals as possible, and we are slowly building that up.”
The bonus? Playing at home.
“We test ourselves a lot in the early season by traveling, but there is no place like Harrington, and it’s special,” Connell said. “Competing under the lights adds more excitement, and makes the game even better.”
Having away games can be challenging. It’s tough being far from home, and on an unfamiliar field. The comfort level is minimal, but that’s no problem for the No. 17 Vikings.
“As the season progresses, if we keep moving forward the way we are, we are going to peak at the right time,” White added, hopefully.
Typically, games cost $5 for students and $8 for general admission, but Thursday’s game welcomed 346 fans with free admission, a tailgate party full of food, and Victor Viking entertaining the crowd.
“It was a hard-fought win. Everyone was hyped on the bench and everyone was really hyped on the field,” senior defender Tivona Tinsley said.