Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Men’s soccer team ‘well-prepared’ for Northwest Conference play

The bad news: When the men’s soccer team plays their first Northwest Conference game of the season this Saturday, they’re sure to be up against some stiff competition.

The good news: They will be well prepared.
After playing one of their toughest preseason schedules ever, including two opponents in southern California, Head Coach Mike Washington is assured of his team’s ability as they enter league play at home against McMinnville’s Linfield College.

“We feel more confident than ever that we can play with the best teams in the conference,” Washington said.

Washington’s program comes off a 2006 season in which the team managed to score just 15 goals in as many games, allowing 20 in their own net as they posted a 4-8-2 conference record. The offensive numbers are already looking more promising, though, as the team has already tallied 18 goals in its first five games.

The preseason match-ups have been no cakewalk, either. After an 8-1 demolition of their first opponent, La Sierra University, the squad earned wins of 3-2 over the University of La Verne and 4-0 over NCAA Division II Saint Martin’s University.

“We put Saint Martin’s under a great deal of pressure, and we played well at the defensive end,” Washington said. “Everyone played well.”

The team went on to suffer its first two losses of the season the next weekend to NAIA teams Simon Fraser University and Albertson College.

Despite concluding the preseason with the losses, junior midfielder Jerreh Badjie maintains that the team has learned from each of its games.

“I feel very well prepared now. The last two games were very challenging. Watching the games last year, I didn’t see any teams as good as the two we played this past weekend,” he said.

Washington also draws positives from the results.

“We put in a lot of hard work this preseason, and we had a chance to bond during our five days on the road,” said Washington. “We’ve now got a rough idea of what our team may look like.”

Junior midfielder Stephen Phillips and senior forward Andy Huntington have looked especially impressive on the offensive end for the Missionaries, having scored five goals apiece. For his efforts, Phillips was also named the NWC Player of the Week on Sep. 3.

The team is also aided this year by a large incoming class. Ten new players, including seven first years, join the team this fall, adding depth to a team that lost seven players to graduation last year.

Graduation has hit the defense hardest, with back players Jon Rue, Cole Sherman and Egan Brinkman all leaving at the end of last year.

Junior Joe Johnson will move to defense this year to fill some of the gaps, and newcomer Jordan Droppert (junior) will also help anchor the defense from his center-back position.

Now that the team is entering Northwest Conference Play, every game is a must-win, said Washington.

“We have to have confidence,” he said. “We can stay with these teams; it’s not a problem.”

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