TACOMA, Washington – The Loggers are back on top. The 2018 Puget Sound women's soccer team brought home the program's 16th Northwest Conference title since the 2000 season, and it earned an automatic bid for the NCAA Championship.
Puget Sound's title run was filled with late-game heroics, including the final game of the regular season. The Loggers needed a win over Linfield in the regular-season finale to clinch a share of the NWC crown, but the Loggers found themselves down by a pair of goals through 75 minutes.
Gabbie Berg ignited a Puget Sound comeback by netting a goal in the 76th minute, and Lura Morton tallied the equalizer just two minutes later. Morton also provided the game-winning score in the 86th minute, vaulting the Loggers into the NCAA Championship.
Although Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran finished the season 12-2-2 atop the NWC, the Loggers held the tiebreaker over the Lutes. The advantage to the Loggers was made possible in large part to Morton's game-winning goal in the 84th minute of a 1-0 home victory against the Lutes (Oct. 4).
That early-October win stood as Puget Sound's fourth consecutive victory, and the Loggers strung together an 11-game unbeaten streak. The Loggers' dominance from late September through October was much-needed after an ominous start to the season. Puget Sound began the 2018 campaign with three consecutive 1-0 losses, two of which came in extra time.
The season came to a head in the first round of the NCAA Championship, where the Loggers lost to No. 6 Hardin-Simmons, 3-0. The Cowgirls scored all three goals in the second half.
Puget Sound earned seven Northwest Conference honors by the end of the season. Goaltender Jamie Lange was named the NWC Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, while rookie defender Kylee Roath earned NWC Freshman of the Year. Lange finished the season as the NWC's leader in saves (132) and save percentage (.892). Her 0.74 GAA ranked second in the NWC,
Berg and Tayla MacPherson joined Lange on the All-NWC First Team. Elizabeth McGraw was named to the All-NWC Second Team, and freshman Tess Carden joined Roath as an All-NWC Honorable Mention. Berg led the NWC in scoring with 10 goals and 24 points. MacPherson earned a First Team nod for the second consecutive year, and McGraw improved her All-NWC status after being an Honorable Mention in 2017.
Puget Sound's third-year head coach Joe Vari was named the NWC Coach of the Year. Vari has 13 wins in each of his first three seasons with Puget Sound, and a 39-16-8 overall record.
Both Berg and MacPherson received United Soccer Coaches All-West Region Third Team honors. The Puget Sound women's soccer program has placed multiple All-West Region student-athletes in every season since 1998.