by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – After three weekends on the road to begin their season, the Whitworth Pirates are back in Spokane this week for matchups with two Northwest Conference foes.
The Bucs open their home season against Whitman on Wednesday, Sept. 19 before taking on Pacific (Ore.) on Sunday, Sept. 23. Wednesday's match kicks off at 4:00 p.m. and Sunday's begins at 12:00 p.m.
Video and live statistics links will be available on the Whitworth women's soccer schedule.
The Pirates: Whitworth (3-1-2, 1-0-1 NWC) enters its home opener on a four-match unbeaten streak after securing a win and a tie on each of its last two road trips. The Bucs opened last weekend with a 1-0 takedown of defending NWC champion Pacific Lutheran. Hannah Rae Miller scored the go-ahead goal on a near-post run, and Molly Webster posted a shutout to earn the win.
In the weekend's second match Webster led the way with a career-high ten saves, easing the Pirates into a 1-1 tie with Puget Sound. Brixiada Mendoza scored Whitworth's lone goal of the match on a long, curling shot from just outside the 18-yard box. The goal was Mendoza's first as a Pirate and came just minutes after the Loggers had taken a 1-0 lead.
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. Four of Whitworth's six matches have needed an extra period, and the Bucs are 2-0-2 in those contests.
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 Blues: Whitman (0-5-1, 0-2 NWC) enters Wednesday's match in search of its first win of the season. The Blues have lost their last four matches coming into the week, including a 2-1 defeat to Puget Sound and a 3-0 loss to Pacific Lutheran. Whitman's defense has struggled on the year and sits in last in the NWC in goals against average (GAA), allowing just more than three goals per game. Sofia Ellington leads the team's offense with a pair of goals. Whitworth won the season series with Whitman last year, winning 1-0 in Spokane and battling to a scoreless tie in Walla Walla.
The Boxers: Pacific (1-5, 1-1 NWC) comes to Spokane with a little momentum after picking up its first win of the year on Sunday. The Boxers defeated Lewis & Clark 1-0 after falling to George Fox by the same score the day prior. Emily Thompson leads Pacific in scoring with two of the team's four goals. Kali Barber, the team's primary goalkeeper, has posted a 1.49 GAA with an .800 save percentage. The Bucs swept the Boxers in 2017 with a 5-1 victory at home and a 1-0 win on the road.
Looking Ahead: The Pirates hit the road for the final weekend of September, taking on Willamette on Saturday, Sept. 29 and Linfield on Sunday, Sept. 30.
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).