With five of the six Western Athletic Conference playoff spots already taken, this is one of the most important weeks for the Southern Utah University soccer team as they look to claim the final spot. This will be easier said than done, since on Thursday, Oct. 19, they will travel to Seattle to face fourth-place Seattle University before returning to Utah to face conference-leading Utah Valley University on Monday, Oct. 23.
The Seattle U Redhawks sit at 6-8-2 overall and 4-2-1 in conference play. They are led by freshman sensation Kailee Wilson, who has three goals and three assists on the season. Defensively, the Redhawks are anchored by freshman goalkeeper Kassidy Kirgan’s 57 saves on the season, which is good for fifth in the WAC.
The Utah Valley Wolverines are 8-3-5 overall and 5-0-2 in conference play. The Wolverines feature two top talents, both ranked in the Top Drawer Soccer Midseason Top 100 List. First, they have senior midfielder Heather Stainbrook ranked at No. 83. Stainbrook has nine goals and five assists on the year, which are good for fourth and sixth best in the conference, respectively. The Wolverines also have junior Faith Webber, who is ranked at No. 24. Webber’s 14 goals are good for second in the WAC and fifth in the NCAA.
The defensive leader for the Thunderbirds is sophomore goalkeeper Julia Ortega, who is second in the conference in saves with 83 and sixth in save percentage with .716. The offensive attack is led by redshirt sophomore Whitney Gardner’s four goals and five assists on the season. With playoff implications on the line, the Thunderbirds sit only four points ahead of seventh-place Abilene Christian University for the final playoff spot. To clinch the last spot, the Thunderbirds have to win both games, or win or tie just one along with ACU. If ACU loses both their games the Thunderbirds are in regardless.
Author: Aidan Mortensen
Photographer: Anden Garfield
Editor: Anden Garfield