Aylward’s goal, assist launch Vikings into GNAC Final

Aylward’s goal, assist launch Vikings into GNAC Final

(GNACsports.com photo)
(GNACsports.com photo)

TUKWILA, WA. – (www.WWUVikings.com) Forward Elise Aylward (So., Renton/Lindbergh) had a goal and assist, lifting Western Washington University to a 2-1 triumph Central Washington University on Thursday, Nov. 6, in a semifinal of the 3rd Annual Great Northwest Athletic Conference Women’s Soccer Tournament at the Starfire Sports Complex.

The Vikings, No.12 in the latest National Soccer Coaches Association of America NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll and No.1 in the West Region, remain undefeated at 16-0-3 overall after capturing the GNAC regular-season title for the third straight year with an 11-0-3 record.

WWU advances to the GNAC tourney championship game on Saturday, Nov. 8 (1 p.m.), against Seattle Pacific, a 1-0 winner over Montana State Billings in the other semifinal. It will be the seventh time in the last 15 months the two teams have met. Central completed its season 8-8-3 overall. The Wildcats had played the Vikings to a 0-0 draw at Bellingham on Oct. 25.

Aylward scored the game-winning goal in the 78th minute. Caitlyn Jobanek (So., Springfield, OR/Thurston) played a ball to Aylward in the penalty area just to the right of goal. Aylward used her first touch to cut back to the center, and then slotted a ball into the net from 10 yards out.

“Elise was outstanding tonight,” said WWU coach Travis Connell. “Central played three in the back against our three, and she moved the center back all over, which created space not just for her, but also for our other players.”

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Aylward had helped the Vikings open the scoring in the 24th minute, poking the ball out of a scramble in the penalty area to a wide-open Catherine Miles (Jr., Anacortes), who blasted a shot in from eight yards out.

The Vikings dominated much of the first half, pressuring the Central backline and winning the ball back to create chances that gave WWU a 13-4 advantage in shot attempts at halftime.

“We talked before the game about starting and finishing,” Connell said. “That was one of our best starts of the season, and in the playoffs, you have to close out games. We got the late goal and did a good job in the last 15-to-20 minutes.”

CWU had its best spell of the game midway through the second half. Whitney Lowe had two good chances to equalize, and the Wildcats finally got a breakthrough in the 74th minute, as Keilen Farrand’s attempted cross from 20 yards out on the right end line found its way into the upper left corner of the net to tie the game.

But WWU recovered, as Aylward got the game winner a little less than four minutes later and the Viking defense held Central without a shot attempt after that.

“It’s a tournament game, Central is a good team and we knew they would come out strong in the second half,’ Connell said. “They did some things with their forwards that game us some trouble, but we were able to make the adjustments we needed to.”

The goal allowed by the Vikings was just their fifth given up this season, and the first in the last six games. WWU entered the game leading NCAA Division II in goals-against-average at 0.21.

Miles’ goal was her team-leading eighth of the season, and Alyward notched her fourth goal and fourth assist.

The Vikings defeated SPU, 1-0, at Bellingham on Oct. 23 after tying the Falcons 1-1 in Seattle on Sept. 20. SPU holds an 18-8-5 advantage in the all-time series, but the Vikings are unbeaten in the last six meetings, with four wins and two ties, including a 1-1 tie in last year’s GNAC title game, which the Falcons claimed in a penalty shootout, 4-1.

WWU has a streak of 58 games without allowing more than one goal in regulation time. The last one was a 2-1 loss against SPU in 2012 when the Falcons scored with 10 seconds left.

Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014
Tukwila, Wash., Starfire Sports Complex

Western Washington 2, Central Washington 1

Scoring – 1. WWU, Catherine Miles (Elyse Aylward), 23:49; 2. CWU, Keilin Farrand,
73:16; 3. WWU, Aylward (Caitlyn Jobanek), 77:13.

Shots – WWU 22, CWU 10
Saves – WWU 2 (Ashley Haden 2); CWU 7 (Kayla Lipton 7)
Corner kicks – WWU 5, CWU 3
Fouls – WWU 9, CWU 8
Attendance: 225

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