Tim Castaneda, Sports Writer, @xTIMBOxSLICEx
After a month and a half of play, the 2014 Western Athletic Conference women’s soccer season closes with Seattle University continuing its dominance as the team repeated as conference tournament champion to move on to the NCAA women’s soccer tournament.
It all started with Seattle clinching the No. 1 overall seed in this year’s conference tournament to earn them a first round bye, automatically landing them a spot in the WAC tournament semifinals.
Seattle faced New Mexico State in the semifinals where they put forth a dominating performance en route to a 7-0 victory heading into the WAC championship match. As a team the Redhawks outshot New Mexico State 35-5 in the blowout.
Next for Seattle came the championship match Sunday afternoon where the team looked to defend its turf and solidify a second consecutive conference title against a Missouri-Kansas City coming off a decisive one-goal victory over Utah Valley.
The onslaught of goals by Seattle continued in the championship as the team’s offensive aggressiveness went unmatched as it worked its way to a 5-0 win to top off their season. In the process Stephanie Verdoia set a Seattle women’s soccer single season record of 21 goals as she found the back of the net in the 59th minute of the match.
“I’m at a little bit of a loss for words and I’m just experiencing so much pride for my team right now,” said head coach Julie Woodward. “They’ve been in the zone, especially for the last couple weeks and this was their goal all year. I was really proud of them, of their fight, of their determination. Their will to win has been unbelievable and they’ve just been playing some really great soccer.”
Seattle finished the day with a 24-9 shot advantage against Missouri-Kansas City, with four shots a piece coming from Verdoia and her teammate Julie Moravec, as they ended up outshooting opponents 59-14 for the tournament.
Verdoia earned WAC offensive player of the year to go along with her All-WAC first team selection.
UVU women’s soccer finished its season on the wrong end of a 1-0 final score as they fell to Missouri-Kansas City for the second consecutive year in the WAC tournament semifinals.
Despite the heartbreaking finish, UVU women’s soccer still enjoyed a successful year as a program with nine shutouts and 13 wins, both single season school records.
In addition to the milestones reached as a team for the year, the lady Wolverines saw four of their own players earn individual recognition by the WAC for their outstanding play throughout the year.
UVU captain Lexi Robison earned WAC defensive player of the year and also made the All-WAC first team. UVU forwards Kim Stratford and Kali Stubbs joined Robison as All-WAC first team selections to represent the school.
Mid-fielder Kasandra Anderson represented UVU women’s soccer on the All-WAC second team list.
“I am very proud of Lexi, Kali, Kim and Kassandra,” said UVU head coach Brent Anderson. “Their preparation for the season and dedication to the team is remarkable. They are true leaders through their example. I am grateful for their efforts this season and for what they bring to the team both on and off the field.”
Although neither received single season awards, keeper Jessica Duffin and defender Caitlin Mortensen earned WAC women’s soccer All-Tournament team honors for the lady Wolverines.
Both Duffin and Mortensen led the UVU defensive unit in allowing just two goals in the entire tournament. Duffin, who set a single season record for shutouts by a UVU keeper with nine on the year, concluded the tournament by making a season high eight saves in the team’s final game.