Whitman women’s soccer alive and kicking

Bailey Arango

Photo Credit: Marin Axtell

The Whitman women’s soccer team went 1-1 on their weekend road trip, defeating George Fox University in a 1-0 shutout on Saturday, Sept. 18 in Newberg, Ore. before falling to Pacific University in a 2-1 heartbreaker on Sunday, Sept. 19 in Forest Grove, Ore. The Missionaries are 1-2 in Northwest Conference play and an even 3-3 overall.

While the weekend may have brought mixed results, hopes are still high for a breakthrough season said junior Libby Watkins.

“I think this is going to be a really good season for us,” she said. “We’re slated to finish fifth in the league, but we all think that’s bogus.”

Watkins, a permanent fixture on Whitman’s defensive front, attributes the team’s potential to exceed preseason expectations to a team-wide dedication to playing intelligent soccer.

“We’re taking a back-to-basics approach where we’re really fine-tuning the fundamentals of our soccer, and with that we’re looking to succeed and achieve at a higher level. We’ve also bumped up the intensity quite a bit; we’re training harder, competing within practice. All of those things are going to transfer to success on the pitch.”

Junior Lauren Brougham, who started in goal for the Missionaries’ season opener, cites a surge of new talent as a key factor in the team’s success this season.

“We have 11 new players on the team, eight of them freshmen–that’s almost half the team. They all work hard and are all good additions. It’s a really different dynamic, but it’s good because it pushes the returners to work harder, it pushes the new players to work harder, and everyone’s working harder for a starting spot. Everyone’s in it together.”

Junior Amy Hasson, who teammates and fans have dubbed “The Assassin,” doesn’t think the youth of her squad will hurt Whitman’s chances.

“Our goal is to win conference. That’s the plan. I’m thinking top three finish, almost for sure.”

Hasson, one of the team’s captains, let her intensity shine through in the team’s 3-2 overtime loss to Northwest University in which Hasson notched both Missionary goals and a red card.

While Whitman’s 3-3 record may look like an early indicator of a difficult season, all three of Whitman’s losses came by just a single goal including one overtime finish. Whitman has outscored its opponents 11-8 thus far.

Watkins sees the Missionaries’ dominant preseason and competitive first six games as proof that there are great things yet to come for Whitman women’s soccer.

“We’re fitter, we’re competing harder, we’re working on our skills; there is no reason why we can’t win conference this year,” said Hasson.

The Whitman women’s soccer team hopes to begin to realize that potential this weekend in a crucial home stand, as they face Pacific Lutheran University on Saturday, Sept. 24 and 12th-ranked University of Puget Sound on Sunday, Sept. 25.