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NWAC Soccer Final Four Preview - Spokane women look to repeat

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Men’s Semi-Finals November 11th
Starfire Stadium, Tukwila, WA

West #3 Pierce vs West #2 Tacoma

school logosFor the first time since 2011, three teams from one region will advance to the Semi-Finals in men’s soccer. That's when Peninsula (then a member of the West), Highline and Olympic made the Final Four. This year, once again three West teams, Pierce and Tacoma will join West #1 Highline at Starfire Stadium thanks to two thrilling overtime penalty kick finales.

Pierce and had a 1-0 lead over Chemeketa until the Storm knotted things up in the 82nd minute. After two scoreless overtime periods, Pierce connected on all 5 PK’s to secure the 5-3 victory in the shootout.

Tacoma shocked the NWAC when they upset #1 overall ranked Peninsula on their home pitch. Peninsula led 2-1 with 12 minutes left in regulation when TCC sophomore Mackenzie Smith tied it up off of a deflected shot from Adrian Correa.

Two overtime periods later, the Titans entered their 4th PK shootout in the last two years. Tacoma, an experience team (13 sophomores) also has the NWAC’s most experienced goalkeeper in NWAC playoff PK shootouts, Evan Munn. After the Titans 4-3 PK victory, Munn is now 3-1 in his NWAC shootout career and has saved an stunning six PK shots in the last two shootouts.

Friday’s Semi-Final match will set up the 4th meeting between the Titans and Raiders this season. Tacoma has won two of the meetings, and the other was a 0-0 draw. Their most recent meeting was on Oct. 29th, a 5-0 dominating performance by the Titans.

Pierce has yet to score a goal on Tacoma this season. Both teams are looking to snap a Championship appearance drought as Tacoma’s last appearance in the championship game was back in 2000 when they won the Title, while Pierce last appeared in the final match in 1993.

West #1 Highline vs East #1 Spokane

School logos
Highline returns to the Semi-Finals for the 6th time in 7 years. Saturday’s match was a 1-0 defensive battle after Brandon Gonzalez’s early goal in the 12th minute. The lone goal was enough to secure the victory thanks in large part to solid back line play and HC goalkeeper Cooper Hutchin’s 7 saves.

Spokane has now advanced to the Semi’s in back to back seasons, and has the most experienced team in the playoffs with 14 sophomores. Four of those sophomores contributed to the 5-0 win over Edmonds in the quarterfinals, which has been the most dominating performance of all 2016 playoff games to this point.

Standout Sophomore Jonathan Cortez now has 4 goals and 2 assists in his NWAC playoff career. Cortez has been the leading scorer in the league the past two seasons with a total of 39 goals and 6 assists.

Highline and Spokane met in the very first match of the season, a game in which Highline came away with the 2-0 victory. Interestingly enough however (given the storied successes of both programs), this will be the first playoff meeting between the two teams since 2008. The match ended in a 0-0 draw, but Spokane advanced 4-3 in PK’s.

Women’s Semi-Finals November 11th
Starfire Stadium, Tukwila, WA

East #2 North Idaho vs North #1 Peninsula

school logosAfter trailing early 1-0 to Clark, North Idaho was able to knot things up at 1-1 before halftime. A scoreless 2nd half ensued with great defensive play until East Region All-Star Megan Lowery became the hero in the 90th minute with a goal off of a Jessica Scott assist to send NIC onto the Semi Finals in dramatic fashion.

East Region All Star goalkeeper and NWAC leader in SV% (91.4%) Tiegan Horton recorded 5 saves.

Peninsula showed the NWAC why they are the #1 overall ranked team after dismantling a good Walla Walla defense, as 5 different players scored to ultimately win 5-0. The defense recorded it’s NWAC best 16th shutout of the season, and only allowed 3 shots on goal.

The Pirates will now advance to their 8th NWAC Semi-Finals in 10 years.

The Cardinals and Pirates met last year in the 2015 Quarter-Finals in a hard fought match when Peninsula won 1-0 off of an Ellie Small goal in the 105th minute of overtime.

This will be the first time that the two programs meet in the semifinals, the rubber match of the Cardinals/Pirates playoff series. Look for a defensive battle as these two teams rank #1 (PeC) and #4 (NIC) in overall in goals allowed on the season.

West #1 Highline vs East #1 Spokane

school logosHighline recorded their 10th straight shutout on Saturday with their 2-0 victory over Everett. The Highline defense has given up just 9 goals all season, but it was the Thunderbirds’ two offensive weapons that came through in the 71st and 74th minute of the match.

Chentay Warnes scored her 14th goal of the season which was a bomb from 10 yards outside of the box. The game was all but sealed when Madasin Jennings scored just 3 minutes later on a miss-played ball from an Everett defender, earning her 13th goal of the season.

Spokane went up two goals by the 25th minute of their contest against Lane and then relied on their sophomore leadership and stout defense to hang on to the 2-0 victory. The first goal came in the 20th minute when Cali Moscrip connected off a corner kick with Stephanie Overland who snuck the ball past the keeper with a near post header.

Then 5 minutes later, Overland delivered a nice ball into the box to Erica Simpson who found the back of the net for the 20th time this season.

This sophomore laden team (10) has now won 4 straight playoff matches, giving up just 2 total goals dating back to last season. Spokane is also undefeated in 24 straight matches, their last lost coming back on October 24, 2015.

Spokane and Highline last met back on the first game of the season, where Spokane came away the victors, 2-0. Both keepers were busy in that match, Molly Webster of Spokane recorded 8 saves and Rachel Thompson of Highline recorded 11.

The defenses have vastly improved since that early season game, and both teams now rank #2 (HC) and #3 (CCS) in goals allowed on the season. The two defenses have combined for 23 shutouts on the season.

For added excitement, both teams will feature 6 players that were selected to the 2016 All-Star Roster, the most combined total of any match thus far in the playoffs.

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