Nationally ranked Western Washington University took a big step toward a second straight Great Northwest Athletic Conference regular-season title on Saturday, defeating Seattle Pacific University, 2-1, in a GNAC women’s soccer contest at Interbay Stadium.
The Vikings, ranked No.2 nationally in the latest National Soccer Coaches Association of America/NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll, improved to 11-0-0 overall and hold a two-game lead in the GNAC at 8-0-0.
Seattle Pacific fell to 8-4-0 overall and 5-3-0 in the GNAC.
The Vikings opened the scoring just 2:01 into the game. Stephanie Hamilton (So., Orting/Bellarmine Prep) found space 25 yards out and threaded a through ball to Catherine Miles (So., Anacortes), who slotted home from 14 yards out.
The Falcons equalized in the 32nd minute. Ali Martin intercepted a Viking pass, took two touches and then hit a soft shot that sneaked in from 14 yards.
But WWU moved in front to stay five minutes later. Caitlyn Jobanek (Fr., Springfield, OR/Thurston) fired in an early cross from the right side that went off the head of an SPU defender at the back post and rocketed in from 10 yards.
The Vikings earned the triumph despite having a 10-6 deficit in shot attempts, the first time this season WWU has been outshot. Goalkeeper Alyssa Beauchamp (Sr., Vancouver/Mountain View) had seven saves for the Vikings.
“It wasn’t our best performance,” said WWU coach Travis Connell (11th year, 131-59-19). “We had a good start, but there were some uncharacteristic lulls in our play tonight. We were also a bit short on the bench because of injuries. We had to overcome those things, so it’s still an impressive win. It shows we can win when we don’t perform 100 percent.”
The Falcons applied significant pressure in the second half, earning five corner kicks in the first 13 minutes of the period, but were unable to find an equalizer.
The Vikings have defeated SPU twice this season, claiming a 2-1 victory at Bellingham on Oct. 3.
The 11 straight victories mark the longest season-opening unbeaten streak for WWU since an 11-0-1 start in 2008. The Vikings have outscored their opposition 31-3, with SPU getting two of the goals and the third being an own goal.
The Vikings are at Saint Martin’s on Thursday, Oct. 17 (3 p.m.), for a GNAC counter.