by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth Pirates open Northwest Conference play this weekend with what may be their most arduous road trip of the season, traveling to defending conference champion Pacific Lutheran and perennial power Puget Sound.
The Bucs open the weekend taking on the Lutes on Saturday, Sept. 15 before battling the Loggers the following day. Both matches kick off at noon.
Video and live statistics links will be available on the Whitworth women's soccer schedule.
The Pirates: Whitworth (2-1-1) comes into the NWC opener off an undefeated weekend against NAIA opponents. The Bucs battled to a scoreless tie with the College of Idaho before defeating Carroll College in overtime the next afternoon.
Isabelle Arends was the star of Whitworth's first match, preserving the tie with multiple spectacular saves in overtime, and Molly Webster continued an excellent weekend for Pirate goalkeepers with a match-saving stop against Carroll. Webster's save allowed Whitworth to finish the weekend with a victory. After the save, Coby Yoshimura took in a long pass and finished the match by firing a laser into the back of the net.
Getting Defensive: Whitworth's defense was one of the keys to its success in 2017. The Pirates allowed barely more than one goal per game (1.08) and finished the year with eight shutouts, the third-most in the Northwest Conference.
Magnificent Molly: Her excellent work last weekend was nothing new for Molly Webster. In her first year as a Pirate, Webster established herself as one of the best goalkeepers in the NWC. The senior finished last year tied for second in the conference in total goals against (11), and fourth in goals against average (.95).
Working Overtime: The Pirates have been putting in plenty of extra work early in their season. Three of Whitworth's four matches have needed an extra period, and the Bucs are 2-0-1 in those matches.
Home Sweet Home: During third-year head coach Bryan Olson's tenure at Whitworth, the Pirates are 15-2-1 playing on the Whitworth Soccer Field. In 2016, Whitworth finished 7-1 at home and the Pirates went 8-1-1 in Spokane last year. Whitworth returns to the Whitworth Soccer Field on Wednesday, Sept. 19 to take on Whitman in their 2018 home opener.
The Lutes: Pacific Lutheran (1-1-2) enters Northwest Conference play after picking up its first win of the year the weekend before, a 2-0 victory over Mary Hardin-Baylor. The Lutes return all-region third team choice Leah Magee to lead their attack and all-conference second team selection Natalie Robinson in goal. Robinson has already posted two shutouts in four matches this season. Pacific Lutheran and Whitworth split their matches in 2017, with both teams winning at home. The Pirates shut out the Lutes 1-0 in Spokane and Pacific Lutheran returned the favor with a 2-0 victory in Parkland, Wash.
The Loggers: Puget Sound (1-3) struggled to begin the 2018 season, dropping three straight matches before defeated Mary Hardin-Baylor 4-1 in its most recent contest. The Loggers welcomed back Northwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year Jamie Lange, who has already posted 38 saves in just 4 matches. Four different Loggers have scored once this year, and Kendra Elderkin leads the team with two assists. Puget Sound won its season series with Whitworth in 2017, pulling off a last-second tie in Spokane and winning 2-1 in Tacoma.
Looking Ahead: The Pirates are back in Spokane for their home opener against Whitman on Wednesday, Sept. 19. After a couple days off, Whitworth closes the week taking on Pacific (Ore.) on Sunday, Sept. 23.
The Coach: Bryan Olson was named the head coach for the Pirate women's soccer team in February of 2016 and enters his third year leading the Bucs in the fall of 2018. In his two seasons at the helm, Whitworth has a 22-16-2 overall record and a 20-10-2 mark in the Northwest Conference.
Olson was the top assistant coach for the Whitworth men's soccer team for six seasons prior to leading the women's team. His title was elevated to Associate Head Coach ahead of the 2015 season. Over that time the Pirate men's team posted a record of 66-17-12 and made the NCAA Division III Tournament three times (2012, 2014 and 2015).