SPOKANE, Wash. – Things are getting serious for the Whitworth women's soccer team. With three weeks to play in the 2012 season the Pirates remain tied for first place in the Northwest Conference standings. Whitworth will host Pacific (Ore.) and George Fox this weekend with the chance of solidifying its spot atop the standings.
Whitworth went 1-0-1 in three scheduled matches last week. After a 1-1 draw with Whitman at home last Wednesday, the Pirates' match at Puget Sound on Saturday was postponed due to lack of referees. Then the Bucs pulled out a 1-0 win at Pacific Lutheran on Sunday.
Live links for this weekend's matches –
The Pirates: Just when it appeared Whitworth had scored a goal that would lift the Pirates to a win against Whitman last Wednesday, the Missionaries struck quickly to tie the match. Tiara Pajimola scored her team-leading seventh goal of the season from an assist by Carly Schilperoort in the 77th minute. But only 30 seconds later Whitman tied the match on a goal by Clara Merlino. Neither team scored in overtime. Andrea Stump made eight saves in the match, most coming on shots from outside the 18-yard box. Whitworth finished 2012 1-0-1 against Whitman.
Saturday's important match with Puget Sound was postponed because there were no referees assigned to work that match due to a scheduling mix up. A date and time has not yet been set for a make-up match between the two schools.
Hannah Bokma's goal in the 77th minute, her first of the season, lifted Whitworth to a 1-0 win over Pacific Lutheran on Sunday in Parkland, Washington. She was able to put back a shot originally taken by Chelsea Schooler that was saved by Lute keeper Marisa Gonzalez. Andrea Stump stopped five PLU shots to post the clean sheet. Whitworth finished the season 1-0-1 against PLU.
Stump Honored Again: Andrea Stump was selected as the NWC Defensive Student-Athlete of the Week in women's soccer for the season time this season. She allowed only one goal in two matches last week while posting 13 saves. She was previously selected for the same award on September 18th.
Senior Day: Whitworth will honor is 2012 seasons during Sunday's match against George Fox. Those seniors are Chloe Cook, Katrin Grant, Kelsey Griswold, Mackenzie Grow, Courtney Larson, Carly Schilperoort and Chelsea Schooler.
It's a Record: Whitworth went 528:42 without allowing a goal from the end of the match against Augustana until the 79th minute against Pacific Lutheran on September 29, a span of six matches. That set a new scoreless streak record for the team. The previous record was 422:22 during the end of the 2008 season.
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 Courtney Larson ( hamstring) are both 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 48-12-2. On top of that, the team suffered serious injuries to several key players that forced head coach Jael Hagerott to juggle her line all season. But the Pirates have responded to share 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 7-1-2 the Pirates have 23 points in the standings, tied with Linfield (7-1-2, 23 points). Puget Sound (7-1-1) has 21 points and is close behind in third place.
Frosh Spark: Tiara Pajimola has made herself an offensive spark plug in her first season with the Pirates. She has scored six of Whitworth's goals this fall, leading the team in total goals (7) and total points (16). She ranks second in the NWC in both categories.
The Opponents: Pacific (Ore.) comes into the weekend with an overall record of 5-6-3 and and NWC mark of 3-6-1 (10 points). The Boxers are averaging 0.9 goals per game and have a team-goals-against average of 1.15. Last week Pacific dropped a 4-0 decision at George Fox on Wednesday (Oct. 10) before falling to Lewis & Clark 1-0 at home on Sunday. Sophomore Kamryn Plechot leads the team with two goals and three assists (7 points). Senior Brittany Harmon is a veteran goal-keeper who has started several years for the Boxers. Whitworth defeated Pacific 2-0 in Forest Grove on September 23rd on goals by Mackenzie Grow and Jackie Day.
George Fox is 2-10-2 overall and 1-9 (3 points) in the NWC heading into Saturday's match at Whitman. The Bruins picked up their first NWC victory last Wednesday with the 4-0 home win over Pacific. They followed with a 2-0 loss at Willamette on Saturday. GFU is averaging 0.9 goals per game and giving up 1.42 goals. Freshman Michelle Young has been a highlight for the Bruins with 5 goals and two assists (12 points). Senior Melanie Gaither has added two goals and two assists. Whitworth pulled out a 1-0 overtime victory at George Fox on September 22nd when Mackenzie Grow scored the match-winner. Ashley Rothrock had six saves in goal for the Bucs.
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 travel to Willamette (Saturday) and Lewis & Clark (Sunday) for a pair of important NWC road games next weekend.