SPOKANE, Wash. – The roll continued for the Whitworth women's soccer team last weekend. The Pirates extended their winning streak to five Northwest Conference matches in a row with wins at George Fox and Pacific. Whitworth continues to hold onto sole possession of first place in the NWC standings with 15 points.
The streak is on the line this weekend when the Bucs play host to Pacific Lutheran on Saturday and Puget Sound on Sunday.
Live Links for this weekend's games:
The Pirates: The wins during this streak haven't come easily, none more so than in last Saturday's 1-0 overtime victory at George Fox. Mackenzie Grow scored the match-winner in the 99th minute on an assist from Tiara Pajimola. The Pirates outshot the Bruins 20-12, but goalkeeper Ashley Rothrock had to make six saves to preserve her first career shutout. Five of those came in the second half of the match.
Whitworth was much sharper in Sunday's 2-0 win at Pacific. It was the Pirates' first win in Forest Grove since 2009. Mackenzie Grow got the Pirates on the board first when she converted a penalty kick in the 35th minute of the match. Tiara Pajimola set up the PK by drawing the foul in the penalty area. Jackie Day then added an insurance goal, her first tally of the season, in the 58th minute on an assist from Aaren Sherpe. Andrea Stump was back in goal for the Pirates and made three saves.
Grow Honored by NWC: For her efforts in last week's matches, Mackenzie Grow was selected as the NWC Women's Soccer Offensive Player of the Week. She scored the winning goal in both conference road victories for the Pirates.
Never Before: Never in the history of Whitworth women's soccer, which dates back to 1989, have the Pirates posted five consecutive shutout victories. The previous record for most consecutive shutout victories was four, set over the course of the final four matches in 2008.
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 the September 8th match against Augustana. Pecka is lost for the season for the third year in a row.
Several other Pirates suffered injuries over the first two weeks that continue to keep them out this week, including Rachel Jones' hip injury suffered in the September 7th match with Wheaton. Two other injuries from the weekend of September 7th and 8th have 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.
Re·sil·ient: Merriam-Webster defines the work resilient as "capable of withstanding shock without permanent damage." Nothing better describes the Pirates in the early going of 2012. Whitworth opened 0-4 against a brutal non-conference schedule that comprised four schools that currently have a combined record of 25-7. On top of that, the team suffered serious injuries to several key players that forced head coach Jael Hagerott to juggle her line up last week. But the Pirates have responded with five straight wins to take the lead in the Northwest Conference standings.
NWC Standings: The conference standings are based on a point system in which three points are awarded for a win and one point for a tie. No points are gained in a loss. So far at 5-0 the Pirates have 15 points in the standings. Second-place Puget Sound (3-0-1) has 10 points, but the Loggers have played one fewer match than the Pirates. Nationally-ranked Linfield (3-1) has nine points after a loss at Puget Sound last weekend.
Frosh Spark: Tiara Pajimola has made herself an offensive spark plug in her first season with the Pirates. She has scored four of Whitworth's goals this fall, leading the team in total goals (4) and total points (9).
The Opponents: Pacific Lutheran comes into the weekend with a record of 2-1-3 overall and 0-1-3 in the NWC. The Lutes tied Lewis & Clark 0-0 at home last Saturday, then fell 2-0 at Linfield on Sunday. PLU averages 1.3 goals per game and gives up an average of 1.05 per contest. Freshman forward Lauren Larson has scored five goals, tied for the second highest total in the NWC. Last year Whitworth swept PLU, winning 2-0 in Spokane and 2-0 in Tacoma.
Puget Sound comes into the week 4-2-1 overall and 3-0-1 in the NWC. The young Loggers seem to have turned a corner in pursuit of their 11th straight conference championship after beating Linfield 1-0 at home last Saturday and winning 3-0 at Willamette on Sunday. UPS averages 1.6 goals per game and allows 0.83 goals per contest. Freshman Amelia Acordia-Fey leads her team with four goals this season. Last year the Loggers beat Whitworth 3-0 in Spokane, but the Pirates were able to hold on for a 0-0 tie in Tacoma.
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: Whitworth will play at Linfield on October 6th in the Pirates' only match of the week.