By Nathan Shoup, Sports Editor
The Pacific Lutheran soccer programs are on the verge of doing something they haven’t done in seven years. The last time both the men and women’s programs finished in the top four in the Northwest Conference was in 2005. That year the men’s team finished fourth and the women finished third.
The men have not finished out of the top four in the NWC since 2002 when they finished sixth.
After a fifth place finish in 2006, the women have alternated between sixth and seventh place finishes yearly.
The women are currently riding a mini two-game win streak and have only lost one of their 10 matches this season. They currently sit in fourth place in the NWC at 4-1-5, 2-1-5.
The men have won five of their seven conference matches and sit in second place in the NWC at 6-4-2, 5-1-1.
However, conference standings don’t always accurately rank teams. For that reason I’m ranking the NWC men’s and women’s soccer teams as promised last week.
As always - ladies first.
1. Linfield Wildcats, third place
The Wildcats are currently in third place, but that is misleading. At 9-1-2, 5-1-2 the lone loss for Linfield came in a 1-0 decision to conference leader, Puget Sound. Red-shirt junior forward Emily Fellows is undoubtedly the best player in the conference. Fellows leads the conference with 12 goals, 26 points and 93 shots. The next highest number of shots in the conference is 39.
2. Puget Sound, first place tie
The NWC championship trophy has made the Puget Sound campus home. The Loggers have won the NWC the last 10 seasons. The Loggers are currently 7-3-1, 6-1-1 but have eased their grip over the NWC. Puget Sound has two narrow 1-0 victories over a mediocre Pacific Boxer team and over a one-win George Fox team.
3. Whitworth, first place tie
At 6-5-1, 6-1-1, the Pirates played horribly in non-conference but rebounded in their conference portion of the season. The Pirates triumphed in only one of their past three matches.
4. Pacific Lutheran, fourth place tie
Saying the Lutes are an improved squad is an understatement. At 4-1-5, 2-1-5 the Lutes have already matched their win total from 2011. First-year forward Lauren Larson is second in the conference with seven goals.
5. Lewis and Clark, fourth place tie
The Pioneer’s signature game this season resulted in a 1-1 tie with Linfield.With a record of 3-6-2, 3-3-2, two of Lewis and Clark’s three conference victories came over the seventh and eighth place teams in the conference, Whitman and George Fox.
6. Pacific, sixth place
Owning a record of 5-4-3, 3-4-1, the Boxers have had a tough time deciding if they enjoy winning, losing or tying games this season.
The Boxers are one point behind the Pioneers and Lutes for fourth place but have lost three of their last four matches.
7. Whitman, eighth place
The Missionaries are currently 3-8-1, 2-5-1. Their 1-0 victory over Willamette put them ahead of the Bearcats at no. 7.
8. Willamette Bearcats, seventh place
At 4-7-1, 2-5-1 the Bearcats have already started playing for 2013. Willamette has only two wins in the past month.
9. George Fox Bruins, ninth place
It is borderline impossible to find a bright spot for the Bruins who are 1-9-2, 0-8.
1. Whitworth, first place
The Pirates have not dropped a match this season with a record of 9-0-2, 6-0-1. Whitworth has allowed only three goals this season. Two of which came in a 3-2 victory over the Lutes Sept. 29 in Spokane.
2. Pacific Lutheran, second place
The Lutes started the season slowly but have picked up the slack in the conference portion of its schedule. At 6-4-2, 5-1-1 the Lutes own a two-point lead over third-place Puget Sound.
3. Puget Sound, third place
Puget Sound rounds out the group of three that will compete for a conference title this season. With a season record of 8-2-3, 4-1-2, the Loggers own a healthy five-point lead over fourth-place Linfield.
4. Willamette, fifth place
The Bearcats won two of its last three matches including a 3-2 victory over fourth-place Linfield last Saturday. Willamette is currently 5-6-1, 2-4-1.
5. Linfield, fourth place
The Wildcats own a slightly better conference record than Willamette at 5-6-1, 3-4, but they fell to Willamette last weekend.
6. Whitman, sixth place
The Missionaries currently sit at 4-7-2, 2-4-1. Whitman has won only two of its past 10 matches.
7. George Fox, seventh place
The Bruins are 2-9-1, 2-5 this season. Whitman thumped the Bruins 3-1 Sept. 23.
8. Pacific, eighth place
The Missionaries managed to steal a 1-0 conference victory from Whitman Sept. 22. But at 3-9, 1-6 the season couldn’t end soon enough for Pacific.