NWAACC Men's Soccer
Things have been shaken up a bit as teams begin to fall into a rhythm in their respective regions. Peninsula continues to outdistance just about everyone else in every positive category, but they aren't the only storyline this time around. The 2011 champions are back in the mix, as is a new team from the Northern Region, adding spice to a North-South race that had seemed at times like it only had one horse. Last week also saw the launch of The Week Ahead, a weekly preview of matches with a few predictions mixed in, which featured several of the top matches of the upcoming week including No. 1 Walla Walla vs. No 4 Highline. Here are a few quick and easy tidbits to get you caught up:
Soaring team of the week: Peninsula (4-0-0) 15-0 Goal Advantage
Freefall team of the week: Spokane (0-4-0) 1-16 Goal Advantage
Score of the week: Peninsula 7, Spokane 0
All season long, Peninsula has come out and steamrolled just about everyone they've faced. They've been all but impossible to score on (eight shutouts) and have put up impressive numbers offensively as well. That said, their drubbing of No. 7 Spokane (box) was a little more than was expected of the match. Peninsula's seven goals scored amount for nearly half of Spokane's total all year, a dominant performance that the Pirates can hang their hats on until October 6th, when they visit No. 3 Walla Walla.
Clark has asserted themselves as an easy front runner in the North-South conference, scoring over 40% of all the goals between the southern region teams, and allowing the fewest goals of any team to play in either the Northern or Southern regions. They, like Peninsula, also picked up a signature win, dispatching then No. 6 Whatcom (box) at home 4-2. Clark's offense is led by Borce Atanasov, who is first in the NWAACC with 14 goals in ten matches.
Looking at just the last week Walla Walla is a team that deserved a top two ranking. They edged No. 4 Highline 1-0 and then No. 7 Spokane 2-1, both on the road, making for an extremely successful and impressive week. However, the week prior wasn't so pretty. The Warriors scored a goal late in the first half to pull even with Treasure Valley (2-2-4) (2-1-3 East) but couldn't find the back of the net again, and wound up in a draw (box). Several days later, Walla Walla blew a 2-1 lead at Bellevue (box) when they let in a goal in the 84th minute and again walked away with just one point. Walla Walla is good, no doubt about it, but they need to show that they can do it consistently.
Given their 2-2 record from the games from last week, Highline shouldn't feel too bad. They held the high scoring No. 1 Peninsula offense to just two goals in a 2-0 loss (box), shut out No. 5 Columbia Basin 2-0, and on September 19th they let in only one goal against Walla Walla, but stayed close for the final 75 minutes of the match before falling 1-0 (box). Highline's offense isn't particularly dominant, but their defense is what will get them attention. They beat out the teams below them, and keep things close with the teams ranked above them. However, they're still in search of something to break them out of simply doing what's expected of them.
The Hawks have only lost once in five games since falling to Peninsula on September 9th. In that time, they've gone 2-1-2, drawing with Whitman College (non-league) and Treasure Valley and losing only to No. 4 Highline after giving up a pair of goals in the first half. The highlight of Columbia Basin's week was the 2-0 victory on the road over No. 8 Tacoma (box). CBC seems like a team on the fence that could go either way. Even with one of the league's best goal scorers in Richard Renteria, the Hawks still find themselves in third place in the East, and up next they find themselves facing a hungry Walla Walla team. Pick up three points from that match, and CBC's place in the rankings will be a little more secure.
Currently sitting at third in the tightly contested NWAACC West, Tacoma has done their best to scrape out a niche for themselves. Perhaps the biggest highlight of their young season was the 4-0 beatdown against then No. 7 Spokane. That match included a pair of goals both from Chris Peterson and Cesar Esquivel, who is tied for 5th in the league in scoring with eight goals. While they're nowhere near Peninsula's sickeningly good numbers, Tacoma does come in third in the East-West conference with a more than decent 21-10 goal differential, and in points they're not far behind No. 4 Highline, who sits in 2nd position in the West with nine.
It took several weeks, but the 2011 NWAACC champions have finally climbed into the power rankings for the first time. The reason for that is what they've pulled off in the last two weeks. After a ho-hum draw with Skagit Valley (3-5-1) (1-3-1 North), the Storm came out and drew with No. 2 Clark (box), beat out then No. 6 Whatcom (box), and shut out Everett 2-0 (box).
A team that struggled mightily in the preseason, Edmonds has put together quite a run now that league play has begun. They've gone 4-0-1 in their last five matches, with their one trip up being a scoreless draw with Everett on September 26th. However, in the four games they've won, they've faced teams with a combined record of 10-23-2, their most impressive victory being a 2-0 road victory at Pierce (box) on September 15th. The four wins look good, but to keep their position, they'll have to get the same result against somebody with a winning record.
Teams dropped: Spokane, Whatcom