The Vikings defeat Montana State Billings 2-1 to close out the regular season with a 15-2-1 record. PHOTO: WWU Athletics
WWU Women's Soccer Clinches 7th GNAC Title
October 27, 2018
BILLINGS, Mont. – The Western Washington University women’s soccer team clinched its seventh Great Northwest Athletic Conference regular-season title, defeating Montana State Billings 2-1 on Saturday afternoon at Yellowjacket Field.
With Concordia and Seattle Pacific ending in a 1-1 tie, WWU finished the conference season with 31 points, one better than the 30 by Concordia to claim the regular-season title. Seattle Pacific and Simon Fraser finished in a tie for 3rd place at 8-3-1 (25 points). WWU will be the No. 1 seed in the tournament that starts Thursday in Portland, and will face No. 4 seed Simon Fraser at 4 pm.
The Vikings extended their unbeaten streak to 12 in a row (11-0-1) and recorded their sixth consecutive victory to complete the regular season at 15-2-1 overall and 10-1-1 in conference play. WWU has now won conference championships (2008, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018), including six in the last seven seasons. The Vikings enter the GNAC Championships as the three-time defending champion of the tournament that determines the automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Championships.
“It is always one of our team goals to win the conference and hats off to the players for making that happen,” said WWU head coach Travis Connell. “It will be an exciting tournament and we are looking forward to the competition in Portland next week.”
The Vikings struck first 13 minutes into the game, when senior defender Taylor Hallquist (Vancouver, WA/Columbia River) connected on her fourth goal of the season, and second in last three games. Hallquist took a pass from senior defender Hattie North (Bellingham, WA/Whatcom CC) from the defensive third, where she made two touches and fired a powerful shot from 25-yards out to put WWU up 1-0.
“I’ll take the quick start every time,” added Connell, who is 235-68-27 in his 16 seasons leading the program. “Taylor (Hallquist) is playing at a very high level right now and she is on a mission to do whatever she can to help this team win. It was a great goal to get us started.”
Western went up 2-0 with a quick goal 49-seconds into the start of the second half, when sophomore forward Zoe Milburn (Maple Valley, WA/Tahoma) scored her sixth goal of the season, with assists by junior forward Emily Bunnell (Kirkland, WA/Lake Washington) and junior forward Liv Larson (Arlington, WA). Bunnell played a long ball out of the back, before Larson cut a cross to a wide-open Milburn at the back post, who finished for her fifth goal over the last nine games.
The Yellowjackets got on the board in the 80th minute when Haylee Gunter scored on a close shot from the left wing, connecting off a corner kick from Claire Tevaseu at the 79:41 mark. Gunter took a flick header from Amanda Hemmen and finished past WWU senior goalkeeper Alyssa Treptow (Flagstaff, AZ), who had entered the game in the 72nd minute.
WWU starting goalkeeper Natalie Dierickx (Kirkland, WA/Inglemoor/Colorado State) made one save in 72 scoreless minutes in net.
“The game didn’t go exactly as we had planned, but we were a resilient bunch today and on this road trip with a lot of travel,” added Connell. “We had a lot of players contribute and in the end got a positive result for a good finish to the regular season.”
The Vikings will now move on to the postseason for the seventh consecutive season as the No. 1 seed in the GNAC Championships hosted by Concordia University at Tuominen Yard in Portland, Oregon…the Vikings will open tournament play on Thursday playing No. 4 seed Simon Fraser at 4 pm…No. 2 seed Concordia will meet No. 3 Seattle Pacific in the 7 pm game…WWU has won three straight, and four of the six GNAC Championships, since it was formed in 2012, and have advanced to the title game each year…tickets for the tournament can be purchased in advance at GNACtickets.com.
2018 GNAC Women’s Soccer Championships
Portland, OR • Tuominen Yard
Thursday, November 1
#1 WWU vs. #4 Simon Fraser 4:00 pm
#2 Concordia vs. #3 Seattle Pacific 7:00 pm
Saturday, November 3
Championship Match 3:30 pm
WWU held a 7-2 advantage in shots on goal and edged MSUB 5-3 in corner kicks…Liv Larson recorded an assist in her fifth consecutive game to increase her team-leading total to 8 on the season (6 in last 5 games)…Hattie North recorded her first career point in 22 games with the Vikings…Zoe Milburn has scored 5 of her 6 goals over the last 9 games (since 9/29 at WOU)…WWU swept the season series vs. the Yellowjackets and now leads the all-time series vs. MSBU 22-3-2 (9-2 all-time in Billings)…13th consecutive victory vs. MSUB…over the last four seasons (senior class), WWU has combined to go 78-6-3 (.914) with a 44-2-2 mark in GNAC play.
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