Forward Joana Houplin scored in the eighth minute to stake Western Washington University to an early lead as the Vikings defeated previously unbeaten and nationally ranked Montana State University Billings, 3-0, in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference women's soccer game Saturday at Orca Field on the campus of Whatcom CC.
Anna Geldenhuys and Catherine Miles notched second-half goals for WWU, which improved to 8-2-0 overall and moved into a tie for first in the GNAC at 5-1-0. They have won eight of their last nine games, seven of them shutouts.
MSUB, ranked No. 23 nationally in this week's NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll, fell to 9-1-0 overall and 5-1-0 in the GNAC.
"We put together a very good performance at home against a difficult opponent," Travis Connell said in a news release. "They're difficult to break down. We got an early goal, and at the end, they had to send people forward and we got the last two goals which makes the game look more lopsided than it really was."
Houplin's goal came after Ashton Griffen played a long ball that was flicked on by Kristen Maris. That put Houplin in on goal, and she chipped the ball over MSUB goalkeeper Alexandria Johnson to open the scoring.
"Ashton played fantastic today," said Connell of the junior who saw time at both midfield and outside back. "It was like having two players out there for us with the ground she covered, which was really important for us defensively."
It was the third goal of the season for Houplin, who left the match in the 24th minute with a hamstring injury.
Geldenhuys doubled the lead in the 76th minute with her first goal of the season, curling the ball into the upper right corner from 21 yards out on the left side.
The Yellowjackets' best opportunities to score came barely two minutes later, but WWU defender Katherine Miccile cleared a shot off the line, and then off the rebound, goalkeeper Jamie Arthurs made a point-blank stop of Teegan Koster.
WWU's final goal came in the 81st minute as Miles scored from eight yards out for her fifth of the year, with Kamryn Barney and Brina Sych getting assists.
Arthurs made two saves in notching her seventh shutout of the season and the 30th of her four-year career, one short of the school career record held by Teresa Fish (2003-05, 2007).