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NWAACC Men's Soccer
With just a handful of games left in the season, most playoff berths have been wrapped up. Edmonds, Walla Walla, Peninsula and Clark have all taken their region titles, and will sit out in the first round of the post season. However, there are a few wild races for 2nd place (2nd place teams play at home in the first round) and a pair of tooth-and-nail battles for a place in the playoffs. As these rankings and insight are only released every other week, be sure to look for The Week Ahead (view: last week, this week when available), a weekly preview of matches with a few tasty tidbits mixed in. Here are a few quick and easy factoids to get you caught up:
Soaring team of the week: Columbia Basin (3-1-0) 12-4 goal advantage
Freefall team of the week: Wenatchee Valley (0-5-0) 5-23 goal advantage
Score of the week: Walla Walla 7, Highline 1
From start to finish, Peninsula has seemed to be the clear frontrunner in nearly every category. They knocked off the defending champion Chemeketa Storm to start things off, and they haven't stumbled save for a loss to Wyoming on September 1st. They remain number one in goals scored, fewest goals allowed and shutouts, and have gone 11-0-0 in region play with just two matches remaining. They've also far and away clinched the Western Region title for the third year in a row, and are looking for their second NWAACC championship in three years. Also, get this: Peninsula has three players with 15 goals apiece.
While the records don't show it, Clark bears the distinction of being the lone NWAACC program to actually get past the mighty Peninsula Pirates. The two teams faced off before the friendlies, and according to Penguin head coach Binium Afenegus, neither team was "firing on all cylinders", but Clark "had a good game" and came away with a 2-1 victory. If that is what they're capable of, then it's no surprise that Clark has taken the South by storm, falling only to No. 3 Walla Walla and getting early season draws with No. 6 Chemeketa and No. 8 Highline. Now with nine straight victories, Clark has now won the region title and earned the first round bi.
The Warriors have faces three ranked opponents in their last three matches, coming out with a pair of wins and a draw, and clinching the NWAACC Eastern Region title. With just one game remaining in the regular season, Walla Walla is third in the league in scoring with 54 goals and fourth in the league with 17 goals allowed. Offensively led by 11 from forward Max Smith and 10 from Sergio Burgos, Walla Walla also has a defensive star in keeper Daniel Romero, who is second in the league with 5 shutouts.
Ever since their 1-0 defeat to Spokane in mid-October, Columbia Basin has been on a tear, capping their six-game unbeaten streak with a draw with No. 3 Walla Walla (story). Not all of the wins were pretty, and two came against non-NWAACC competition, but the draw with Walla Walla is telling. Down 1-0 just after halftime, Columbia Basin was able to rally for a score in the 74', and hold one of the league best scoring teams scoreless in the final 40 minutes of the match. The Hawks will have a big chance to cement their playoff birth on Oct. 31 when they host No. 7 Spokane, who sits just four points behind them in the standings for 2nd place. A win guarantees the spot, but a loss puts everything up in the air.
A 4-1 loss to No. 2 Clark aside, Edmonds has had a rather successful month of October. With a win on Oct. 31 over Whatcom, Edmonds can clinch the Northern Region, but Edmonds has an odd statistical anomaly about them. With 34 goals let in so far this season, they're dead last of any team in the top eight by a wide margin. And yet, they're second in the league in shutouts. That's because almost all of those goals were given up in the first six games of the season, when the Tritons went 1-5-0 and were outscored 26-12 in those first six matches. Since then, if you do your math, Edmonds has only given up eight goals, four of them in the loss to Clark. If you were to wipe out the first few weeks of the season, Edmonds might be a lot higher in the rankings than they are.
Chemeketa had a big test on Oct. 17th when they faced No. 2 Clark. Chemeketa had done well since the rough start to the season, going unbeaten since early September. This outing, however, didn't fare quite so well. The Storm were outplayed from start to finish, and although they mustered a few scoring chances, Chemeketa was playing catchup for much of the game. Given, their opponent has been nearly unstoppable since the season started, but the game went to show that Chemeketa isn't one of the top tier teams this year, as they were shut out 3-0 by Clark, their first scoreless outing since September 1st.
Two weeks ago, Spokane was in a neck and neck race with Treasure Valley. They played to a 2-2 draw on Oct. 17th, and then both lost to Walla Walla, Spokane by a score of 4-0. The following week, Spokane got a legup when Treasure Valley fell to No. 4 Columbia Basin, and they now hold a slim 16-13 points lead for 3rd place in the NWAACC East. In all likelihood, TVCC will pick up three points on Oct. 31, meaning that the season finale when Treasure Valley visits Spokane could very well be for a trip to the playoffs. Keep an eye on this one.
Highline is a team that has definitely struggled of late, not winning two matches in a row since September 22nd and 26th, when they beat Columbia Basin and Olympic College. However, they have now clinched the 2nd spot in the West, and played No. 1 Peninsula extremely close on Oct. 20th, falling 2-1. Had Highline not allowed an early goal in the 6th minute, a draw in that match would have been feasable, and Highline would find themselves ranked much, much higher.
Teams dropped: Treasure Valley