HighlightsSports & Outdoors

Women’s soccer wins 11th straight NWC title

It is difficult to field a consistently dominating program at the college level. Players get injured and graduate, and they get replaced by those who are far less experienced.
Because of this pattern, success tends to be cyclical for a lot of college sports programs. They wax and wane while players enter, develop and graduate.  However, the success of the Puget Sound women’s soccer team has not waned a bit over more than a decade, as they secured their eleventh Northwest Conference championship in as many seasons.
The Loggers went into their final weekend riding a three-game winning streak, as well as a streak of seven wins in their previous eight games that stretched back to the beginning of October.
This streak vaulted them to the pole position in the NWC, but they still needed to win both of their weekend games to be assured of an outright NWC Championship.
Their weekend began on Saturday, Nov. 3 on the road against Lewis and Clark. The Loggers had beaten the Pioneers handily earlier in the season at home, but it is  always a challenge to beat a conference rival on the road. For the first half, the Loggers had several golden opportunities but nothing to show for it. They went to the half still knotted up at 0-0.
Coach Randy Hanson’s halftime talk must have been an inspiring one, because the Loggers started off the second half with a furious barrage of shots at the Lewis and Clark net, and it paid off when junior Kylie Beeson (Everett, Wash.) served a corner kick to junior Lauren Swanson (Eagle, Idaho) in the 48th minute to break the tie.
The barrage did not stop there, as the team, en route to a shocking 15 shots in the second half, continued to attack the goal. The Loggers got their second goal about 15 minutes later, as a Lewis and Clark foul set up a penalty kick for senior Theresa Hanle (Issaquah, Wash.), who converted to give the Loggers a 2-0 lead.
While a Lewis and Clark goal in the 68th minute halved the deficit, the Loggers were not rattled. Indeed, the Loggers regained the two-goal advantage after freshman Haley Rosenberg (Lake Oswego, Ore.) knocked the ball into the goal for a 3-1 lead that the Loggers would not relinquish.
While the Loggers were taking care of business against Lewis and Clark, Linfield won their final game of the season, putting them a half-game ahead of the Loggers with one game still to go.
A win would give the Loggers the championship, a loss would leave them on the outside looking in and a tie would result in Puget Sound and Linfield tied at the top. Such was the set up for their battle against Pacific.
The Loggers seized control of the game early, but simply could not buy a goal early in the first half. Shot after shot went just high or was deflected by the keeper or a Pacific defender. It was not until the 38th minute that the Loggers broke the scoreless tie, as Rosenberg cashed in on a rocket of a goal to the upper left corner of the goal.
From there, everything seemed to go the Loggers’ way, as Rosenberg scored her second goal of the game in the second half, and Hanle added two more of her own on the way to a 4-0 Logger rout that clinched the title.
In a way, the final game was a microcosm of the Loggers’ spectacular season. The offense was aggressive, racking up 25 shots on the day to only three from Pacific. All of their goals came from Hanle and Rosenberg, their two leading scorers in the season.
And this often spectacular offense was paced by a stifling defense, one that has allowed more than a single goal only twice during the Loggers’ entire conference schedule. This shutout was one of 11 on the season.
In addition to picking up their 11th straight conference title, the longest active streak in Division III women’s soccer, the Loggers also punched their ticket to the nationwide NCAA tournament, securing an automatic berth by winning their conference.
“I think this year was really hard, because we came from behind, worked through lots of adversity early in the season. It looked like we were out of it early in the season, and just kept at it, kept consistent, and overtook the other teams in the end,” Hanson, in a quote to Logger Athletics, added.
As impressive as their success this season was, the Loggers might not be finished yet. But regardless of how they do in the NCAA Tournament, the achievement of winning their eleventh straight conference title should be commended.