PUEBLO, CO— Western Washington University junior forward Gabriela Pelogi scored in the 17th minute off a free kick from senior midfielder Emily Webster to send the top-ranked Vikings to a 1-0 road victory over Colorado State-Pueblo Wednesday afternoon in non-conference play at Art & Lorraine Gonzales Stadium.
The Vikings improved to 4-0-0 on the season, ending their Colorado road trip with a pair of 1-0 victories over MSU Denver and CSU-Pueblo. The defending NCAA Division II national champions have now won 28 consecutive games for sole possession of the 4th-longest winning streak in DII history, and have a 29-game unbeaten streak to tie for the 8th-longest in the NCAA II record books.
Colorado State-Pueblo, an NCAA tournament team a year ago, drops to 1-3-0 on the season, with all three defeats coming in 1-0 fashion.
“Today was a great win to cap a very good road trip for our team,” said head coach Travis Connell. “I am really happy with these results, not just because we won with shutouts, but because we were tested as a team by the conditions and the quality of the opponents. We are a better team because of this trip.”
WWU grabbed the lead in the 17th minute when Webster (Bellingham, WA/Sehome) sent a free kick into the 18-yard box from the right side to Pelogi (Federal Way, WA), who used a one-time finish to score her fifth goal of the young season. Webster, who led the Great Northwest Athletic Conference with 8 assists last season, recorded her first assist of 2017 on the play.
“It was a tremendous goal from Webster and Pelogi, something we work on in practice every day, and they executed it perfectly,” said Connell.
A First Team All-West Region selection and the GNAC leader in points with 29 (11 goals, 7 assists) a year ago, Pelogi is off to a torrid start to the season with five goals and two assists in the first four games of the season.
“Having Gaby produce like this gives our team a lot of confidence,” said Connell of his junior forward. “I have to give her a lot of credit, because she has gotten better each year. Everyone knows she is dangerous, but now she is not just a challenging player to defend, but she is a real threat to score each time she touches the ball and is producing at a very high rate.”
The Vikings defense held the ThunderWolves to only two shots in the match, with none on goal, and had only one scoring opportunity with a shot off the post late in the first half.
CSU-Pueblo goalkeeper Rylie Martin took the loss and made three saves on 10 shots (4 on goal) by the Vikings.
WWU returns to Bellingham for Saturday’s home and GNAC opener against Western Oregon at 4 pm at Harrington Field. The men’s and women’s squad will team up for a doubleheader on Saturday (Sept. 16), with the men hosting Fort Hays State at 7 pm. Admission for the games is 2-for-1, with t-shirt and poster giveaways for both games.
“We are excited to get back home and get a needed lift from our home crowd,” said Connell, whose teams have a 33-1-1 all-time record at Harrington Field. “We are a bit road weary, so it will be great to get back to Bellingham. Saturday’s match will be really exciting as Western Oregon is a very good team.”
Match Notes: WWU extended its streak of consecutive wins on the road to 15 straight…overall won last 28 matches (since 9/4/16) and undefeated in last 29 matches (since 9/1/16)…Gabriela Pelogi scored her 26th career goal, 12th-most in WWU history breaking a tie with current assistant coach Claire Morgan (2007-10)…Pelogi’s 66 career points are also tied for 12th-most in program history with Tami McDonald (1988-91)…Emily Webster moved into a tie for 6th in WWU history with her 19th career assist, matching career totals from Stephanie Hamilton (2012-15) and Annette Duvall (1982-84)…WWU is 85-5-7 over the last five seasons (since 2013), the best combined record among all NCAA Division II programs.