Whitworth Set to Open Northwest Conference Play

SPOKANE, Wash. – Coming off of an incredibly difficult non-conference schedule the Whitworth women's soccer team jumps right into Northwest Conference play this week with three matches in five days.

The Pirates open their NWC schedule on Wednesday at Whitman, then host Lewis & Clark and Willamette on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Sept. 12 - Whitworth at Whitman (1:30 pm) - live stats

Sept. 15 - Lewis & Clark at Whitworth (Noon) - live stats / live video

Sept. 16 - Willamette at Whitworth (Noon) - live stats / live video

The Pirates: Whitworth is off to an 0-4 start against four schools that have a combined record of 16-1 so far this season.  Last weekend in the Whitworth Soccer Classic the Pirates dropped a 4-0 decision to 3rd-ranked Wheaton (Ill.) and lost in heart-breaking fashion to Augustana (Ill.) 2-1 in double overtime when the Vikings were awarded a penalty kick.

The Bug Bites: The injury bug has hit Whitworth hard once again in 2012.  Within a span of six minutes, both Jill Pecka and Molly Smith were lost to season-ending knee injuries in Saturday's match against Augustana.  Pecka is lost for the season for the third year in a row.

Several other Pirates have suffered injuries over the first two weeks that will keep them out of at least part of this week's action.  Rachel Jones suffered a hip injury in Friday's match with Wheaton, while Mackenzie Grow strained a hamstring.  Two other injuries from Saturday impacted the Pirates' lineup – Lacee Scott (quad) and Abbie Moseley (concussion).  Courtney Larson suffered a hamstring injury the previous weekend and is considered week to week.

Frosh Spark: Tiara Pajimola has made herself an offensive spark plug in her first season with the Pirates.  She has scored both of Whitworth's goals this fall, including the goal against 19th-ranked Augustana with less than ten minutes to play that forced overtime.

The Opponents: Whitman comes into Wednesday's match with a 1-3 record against non-conference opponents.  The Missionaries dropped their own heart-breaking overtime decision on Sunday, 1-0 against Whittier in a match played in Salem, Oregon.  Whitman's win was a 6-1 victory over Warner Pacific last Saturday.  Last year the teams split a pair of one-goal decisions with the Missionaries taking a 3-2 victory in Walla Walla and the Pirates winning 2-1 in Spokane.

Lewis & Clark College is 0-3 after dropping all three of its matches on a California road trip last weekend.  The Pioneers played the same Chapman squad that Whitworth opened against the week before and lost 2-1.  L&C also fell at La Verne (1-0) and at Redlands (2-0).  Last season the Pirates swept the Pioneers, winning 3-0 in Portland and 3-2 in overtime in Spokane.

Willamette comes into the week 2-2 after splitting its four non-conference matches.  The Bearcats fell 3-0 to highly-ranked Concordia of the NAIA on Sunday evening.  Sophomore Ashland Bernard is off to a solid start for Willamette with two goals and one assist.  Last season the two schools split their matches as Whitworth won 3-1 in Spokane and Willamette won 2-0 in Salem in the season finale.

The Coach:  Jael Hagerott, one of the greatest players in Whitworth history, was promoted to head coach in 2011 and posted an 8-6-4 record in her first season leading the Pirates.  She is Whitworth's all-time leader in career assists.  She was the NWC Offensive Player of the Year in 2004 and an NSCAA Third Team All-American in 2007.

Coming up: After three matches this week, Whitworth will hit the road for contests at George Fox (Sept. 22) and Pacific (Sept. 23).