These rankings are the opinion of just one man, and do not reflect the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges or any of their sponsors. If you have a question or comment on this or any story for John Howard, send him an email , contact him via twitter , or leave a comment below.
NWAACC Women's Soccer
With just a few games remaining in the NWAACC regular season, two teams have come out and dominated their regions. Peninsula and Clackamas, both nationally ranked at 11 and 16 respectively, have easily taken the region title in the West and South. The East and West, however, aren't quite finished yet. Two fantastic races for first place are in effect, with Spokane and Walla Walla separated by just two points and Whatcom and Everett apart by only one. Also, in all four regions, there is still one open playoff spot, meaning that some teams won't know if they'll be attending the post season until all the games are finished. As these rankings and insight are only released every other week, be sure to look for The Week Ahead (view: last week, Nov. 7), 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: Everett (3-0-1) 7-1 Goal Advantage, +2 in rankings
Freefall team of the week: Wenatchee Valley (0-4-1) 3-32 Goal Advantage, one forfeit due to injury
Score of the week: Spokane 13, Wenatchee Valley 0
Bore of the week*: Edmonds 0, Shoreline 0
* One of five scoreless matches, but the only one with two unranked teams
Previously ranked: No. 1, No. 1 Coaches
Peninsula's four goals in their Oct. 27 match against Tacoma were enough to push them past the elusive 100 goal mark into an exclusive club of some truly impressive teams. In fact, every team since 2007 that has scored 90+ goals has either won the NWAACC title or advanced to the finals. As of Oct. 30th, they sit at 101, and they can move up into second place all-time* in single season goals with just eight more in their final two games of the season. Taking first place is a longshot, as Walla Walla's 2007 mark of 129 goals is a little too much to ask for. Whoever gets Peninsula in the second round better look out.
Previously ranked: No. 2, No. 2 Coaches
Spokane is doing everything they can to dearly hold on to the top seed in the NWAACC East. Still leading Walla Walla by just two points, they dominated Yakima Valley 8-1 and Wenatchee Valley 13-0, and held Walla Walla to a 0-0 draw on Oct. 24th. If the Sasquatch can win out, they'll claim their first Eastern title in more than 10 years, and finish in the top two in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2005-06. Spokane's potent offense is currently 2nd in goals scored with 76, but their next two matches are against teams fighting to make the playoffs: at Columbia Basin, and at home against Treasure Valley to end the season.
Previously ranked: No. 3, No. 3 Coaches
The Cougars have now won five in a row since their loss at home to Whatcom on Oct. 10th. More significant is that the last four victories have come against the other four teams in their region, and all five of the wins in the current streak have been shutouts. While not the flashiest team on offense (39 goals, 6th NWAACC) they are among the league's best defensively. They're tied for least goals at six with Walla Walla, and tied for most shutouts with Peninsula, and while one could argue that Walla Walla and Peninsula are more impressive because of their record and greater amount of games played, you can't ignore Clackamas' defensive prowess. They have now claimed their third consecutive Southern Region title, and their 7th since the program's inception in 2003.
Previously ranked: No. 4, No. 3 Coaches
The entire month of October has been one that clearly sent the message of "we will not be ignored" from the three time defending champion Walla Walla Warriors. They haven't lost all month, going 7-0-1 and picking up a victory over No. 1 Peninsula and a draw with No. 2 Spokane. They are now fast on the heels of Spokane for the Eastern Region title following a draw with Spokane on Oct. 24. They sit a fair distance behind the Sasquatch in scoring, but in third place nonetheless with 51 goals, and they are tied with Clackamas for least goals allowed. The Warrior's path to the title would require Spokane to lose, but Walla Walla's schedule going out isn't very rough: their opponents have been outscored 39-212 so far this season, and 34 of those goals belong to Yakima Valley.
Previously ranked: No. 7, No. 8 Coaches
Another team fighting for the top spot in their region, Everett has surged past Whatcom to sit in first place, but only by one point. They've drawn once already this season, but Everett hasn't tripped up much lately. The month of October has been productive, with Everett going 6-1-1 in that time span, falling only to No. 3 Clackamas on Oct. 13th. Everett is about as on top of it's game as it can be, making for an intriguing way to end the season: should both Whatcom and Everett get the same result their next match, they will face one another in the last game of the season for the region championship. Can you say Game of the Week? No, really. Say it.
Previously ranked: No. 5, No. 6 Coaches
Somehow, Whatcom mysteriously leads the North in both goals scored (36) and least goals allowed (7). They're tied for most shutouts with nine. It's a mystery because Whatcom doesn't lead the North in points, something that is most likely the product of how the Orcas handled the middle of October. They were ranked second coming in to the game against Edmonds on Oct. 10th, having just knocked off a very good Clackamas team on the road. The luck, however, didn't continue, and Whatcom ended the game with a pair of goose eggs. The next outing produced another pair, and then another, as Whatcom played to three consecutive scoreless draws to lose their footing in the race for the top spot in the North. That said, there's a chance at redemption: that game at home on November 3rd against No. 5 Everett is for aaaallll the marbles.
Previously ranked: NR, NR Coaches
Highline definitely hasn't been perfect of late, but they've done what good teams try for at the end of the season: make the most of every opportunity, and fight tooth and nail until the whistle blows. Late in the season, a door opened with the implosion of Bellevue, and Highline stepped through it. Wins against Yakima Valley and Olympic and a draw with the aforementioned Bellevue, and Highline now finds themselves in 3rd place in the West, just a few weeks removed from wondering if they'd make the playoffs or not. They have a solid lead on 4th place Tacoma, and can ice their berth with just one more win or a loss from the Titans.
Previously ranked: No. 6, No. 6 Coaches
Somewhere in the middle of October, something went horribly wrong for the Bellevue Bulldogs. They've only scored two goals since Oct. 10th when they defeated Lower Columbia 4-1, and the only win that they've had since then was the result of a forfeit. All together, they've gone 1-3-2 in the last few weeks, and have Highline breathing down their necks for the 2nd spot in the West. They have Olympic on Oct. 31st, but they finish the season with a real challenge: on the road at Peninsula. Leading by just two points, they will have to win out to ensure the 2nd seed.
Teams added: Highline
Teams dropped: Shoreline