WWU Vikings

WWU No. 1 seed at GNAC Tournament this week

Having earned the No. 1 seed by virtue of its third straight regular-season title, the unbeaten and nationally ranked Western Washington University women’s soccer team meets No. 4-seed Central Washington University in semifinal action on Thursday, Nov. 6 (7 p.m.) in the third annual Great Northwest Athletic Conference Tournament being held at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.

In the other semifinal Thursday at 4 p.m., No. 2 seed Montana State Billings faces No. 3 seed and defending champion Seattle Pacific. The winners advance to the championship game Saturday, Nov. 8, at 1 p.m., with the winner earning an automatic berth in the NCAA Division II West Regionals, which begin Nov. 13.

The Vikings, who moved up two spots to No. 12 in this week’s National Soccer Coaches Association of America NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll, are 15-0-3 overall and took the conference regular-season crown with an 11-0-3 record.

They also have been rated No. 1 in the first two West Region ratings, which should assure them of a national tournament berth no matter what happens at the GNAC Tournament. The NCAA II selection show is slated for Monday, Nov. 10, at 4 p.m.

WWU, which has not allowed a goal in its last five games, leads the nation in goals against average at 0.21, save percentage at 94.1 and shutout percentage at 0.78. The Vikings have allowed just four goals this season, one of them an own goal, and has posted 14 shutouts.

WWU will be without its leading scorer. Forward Jessica Bertucci, who has six goals and four assists for 16 points, will miss the rest of the season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee in the closing minutes against Central Washington on Oct. 25. She played in just five games as a freshman in 2012 before sustaining the same injury, also to her right knee.

Catherine Miles has 14 points for the Vikings, leading the team with seven goals and in game-winners with four. She is tied for third among GNAC leaders in goals.

Midfielder Emily Webster paces WWU with five assists. She also has two goals and is tied with Elise Aylward, who has three goals and three assists, with nine points.

Defender Brianna Jones, a first-team Daktronics All-American in 2013, has eight points (three goals, two assists, two game-winning goals).

Goalkeeper Ashley Haden leads the GNAC and ranks third nationally in goals against average at 0.22. She also is the conference leaders in save percentage (.938) and shutouts (11).

Last week, the Vikings blanked both Northwest Nazarene, 2-0, and Simon Fraser, 3-0. Earning GNAC Defensive Player of the Week honors was midfielder Kim Cooper.

Central, 8-7-3 overall, lost 3-0 to WWU at Ellensburg on Sept. 18 and tied 0-0 in overtime at Bellingham on Oct. 25. The Vikings hold a 33-11-7 series advantage over Central.

MSUB is 11-3-2, winning its last five games, and SPU is 11-4-2 and riding a three-game winning streak.

WWU has a 13-3-3 series advantage over MSUB, winning 1-0 at Billings on Oct. 4 and prevailing 2-1 in overtime at Bellingham on Oct. 16. The Vikings trail SPU 18-8-5 in their series, tying 1-1 in overtime at Seattle on Sept. 20 and winning 1-0 at Bellingham on Oct. 23.

WWU, coached by Travis Connell, has outscored the opposition, 29-4, this season.

Last year, WWU finished 20-2-1, the win total being a school record, and reached the NCAA II semifinals.

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