In a David versus Goliath battle, it was the Seattle University women's soccer team that stunned the No. 8 Portland Pilots Friday evening to open the Husky NIKE Invitational. A pair of first half goals guided the Redhawks to the biggest victory in program history, 2-0, over the perennial powerhouse Pilots. The win also marked the highest ranked opponent a Seattle U team has defeated since reclassifying back to NCAA Division I status.
"I am really excited for the team. This is the highest ranked opponent we have ever played. We had a pretty good week of practice, and we were focused and concentrating on doing all the little things right. I am just proud of the team's efforts, beginning to end," said head coach Julie Woodward.
A composed and gutsy performance by goalkeeper Madison Goverde (Snohomish, Wash.) and the SU defense was the catalyst in the victory, as a talented UP frontline worked to put pressure on the Redhawk backline.
"To get a shutout against a team like Portland has to make you feel good. Our defense has been solid every game this year. Madison, hands down has been the best player this year; she has been outstanding in all five games this season," Woodward said.
Goverde showcased her veteran experience throughout the 90-minute battle, tallying six saves and her third clean sheet of the year.
"I honestly can't say how good it feels. We went into the day not knowing, but one thing is SU always outplays people with heart - we want to win. To be the goalkeeper that shutout UP is indescribable," said co-captain Goverde.
She had strong support from a resilient backline, beginning in the center with seniors Jordan Salisbury (Federal Way, Wash.) and Renee Vandermause (Colbert, Wash.). The duo, along with outside defenders Mary Hill (Mercer Island, Wash.) and Carlee Norquist (Boise, Idaho) were tactful and undaunted by the towering Pilot frontline. Every Portland possession consistently was repelled out of the SU's half, setting up offensive opportunities for the Redhawk strikers.
While the defense preserved the shutout, it was the offense that got SU on the board.
The game opened with possession transferring between sides and Portland sending a few long balls into the Redhawk half. After the defense denied the Pilot attempts, SU began to put together several runs down the field into the UP half. They set up several opportunities and in the 20th minute their efforts were rewarded when they earned a throw in around the 20 yard line. Sophomore Shawna Anderson (Pasco, Wash.) threw in the ball to junior Emma Levy (Sammamish, Wash.), who was at the top of the 18 yard box. Levy put a touch on it and sailed in a perfect shot past the Pilot goalkeeper Erin Dees. It was her first goal of the season and would be the eventual game-winner.
With a 1-0 lead, Portland began to push their offensive even deeper into the Redhawk half. For every attack, Seattle U was there to counter and work to add to their lead. At 24:41, freshman Megan Daniels (Lake Forest, Calif.) crossed the ball near the UP goal to classmate Stephanie Verdoia (Salt Lake City, Utah). Verdoia shot in the go-ahead goal to the near post for her second goal of the season.
Following Verdoia's goal, Portland would work to get on the board. Despite the Pilots attempts to get the ball into Redhawk territory, SU remained poised and deflected their attempts.
In the game, UP outshot SU 18-10, with Seattle U landing seven shots on frame to Portland's six. The Pilots tallied 10 corner kicks to the Redhawks' three.
"It is hard to come off a big win like this because we turn around and have another great tough opponent Sunday in UW. They can enjoy it for today, but tomorrow it is back to work preparing to do what we can to give the Huskies a good game," concluded Woodward.
Seattle U (4-1) will conclude tournament action on Sunday, Sept. 4, with host-Washington. Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. at Husky Soccer Stadium.