On Senior Night at Harrington Field at Western Washington University, one of the highlights for the visiting Central Washington University Wildcats came early, in the fifth minute, when the Vikings’ Becca Cates took a penalty kick which was saved by Wildcat freshman goalkeeper Emily Holt, who then fell on the rebound before any of the Vikings could get to it.
The evening would turn chillier for the visitors in the 20th minute, with Western’s Gabriella Pelogi finding a seam in the middle of the Central defence and burying a shot from the top of the 6-yard area. Minutes later, Pelogi would have a shot at the brace as she was played in by Elise Aylward, but Holt held her ground and was able to corral the shot.
In the 27th minute, the Vikings would make another bid to stretch their margin to two, with Caitlyn Jobanek missing just high with a left footed drive from the top of the box.
The second goal wasn’t long in coming, though, with Liv Larson finding twine behind Holt, curling a drive from just outside the box into the top right corner.
Western continued the pressure on the Wildcat back line, but headed to the turn with just the 2:0 advantage, with junior goalkeeper Ashley Homer barely tested by either of Central’s two shots.
Abby Litka would ruin Homer’s clean sheet in the fiftieth minute, left-footing a shot into the side netting from the left post, after creeping into a seam resulting from a coverage error on a Wildcat corner. The goal conceded snapped a skein of 422 minutes the Viking defence had held opposition off the scoreboard.
“Goals change games,” noted coach Travis Connell, reprising the phrase Laura Harvey has made famous throughout women’s soccer in the Pacific Northwest. “Central is a good team, a strong team, and they play a physical game. We knew this was going to be a test for us, and it gave us something to work on. Even conceding the goal, it gave us something to work on we haven’t gotten to work through very often this season.”
In the 56th, the visitors from Ellensburg would spring McKenzie Nolte behind the Viking defenders, but the cross from Bailey Martoncik was just a little too heavy for Nolte to keep in, and kept the margin at one.
At 2:1, the game settled into more of a back-and-forth struggle until the 70th, when Mariah Roggow capitalized on a feed from Jobanek to restore the Vikings’ cushion to two, where it would remain until the eighty-eighth minute, when Aylward chipped Holt to stretch the score to 4:1.
“I’m just so proud of these girls, the way they’ve worked all season, and their work shows in the record,”Connell concluded.
The win ran Western’ record to 15-0-1 and a perfect 10-0-0 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, and marks the 23rd consecutive home victory for Western. The Vikings close out their campaign with a pair of road matches against Portland Nazarene and Montana State Billings before the GNAC tournament, which will be hosted in Burnaby, British Columbia by Simon Fraser University.
Photo credits to Max Aquino and Jacqui Roddewig, as noted on the respective images