Beneath Robert S. Harrington Field floodlights and a steady downpour, the Western women’s soccer team closed the Great Northwest Athletic Conference tournament in a familiar fashion: a win.
The Vikings secured their second consecutive GNAC tournament championship on Saturday, Nov. 5. Three first-half goals powered the Vikings to the 3-1 victory over Seattle Pacific University. The match marked the fifth consecutive time the Vikings and Falcons competed for the GNAC tournament championship.
Despite the heavy rain, Western seemed comfortable from kick-off to the final whistle. Emily Webster converted a penalty kick to the lower right side of the goal in the fifth minute to jumpstart the Vikings to an early 1-0 lead. Webster has scored three goals this season, each one coming in the past three matches.
Ten minutes later, Gabriela Pelogi found the back of the net off a pass from Elise Aylward for the first of Pelogi’s two goals of the night.
Pelogi was able to capitalize on a cross from Caitlyn Jobanek two minutes later, giving Western a 3-0 lead.
“I’m very happy about it,” Pelogi said. “I think this is a huge win.”
Pelogi also scored a goal in the tournament semifinal game against Simon Fraser University and earned the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award. She leads the team with eight goals on the season.
"She was hungry in both games," head coach Travis Connell said. “She is a force.”
The game, originally scheduled to be played at Simon Fraser at 1 p.m., was moved to Bellingham for a 7:30 p.m. start due to a lack of vision caused by fog in Surrey, Canada.
"She was hungry in both games. She is a force.”
The only SPU score came midway through the second half, when Viking goalkeeper Ashley Homer came out of the box for a clearance, but was unable to make contact. Hannah Huesers of SPU then controlled the ball and fired a shot into an empty net to make the score 3-1.
The win marks the third GNAC tournament championship (2012, 2015, 2016) for the Vikings since the tournament was created five years ago. The other two championships have gone to the Falcons.
Connell is three victories away from earning 200 total wins during his 14-year tenure. Under his guidance, Western has reached the NCAA National Championship tournament in five consecutive seasons, including two trips to the Final Four.
“We’re excited,” Connell said. “We’ve got five games to win.”
Number-one nationally ranked Western secured the number one seed in the NCAA tournament’s West region as the only undefeated team in Division II women’s soccer.