Consider the Whitworth men’s soccer team reloaded.
Despite graduating nine seniors, including seven who earned All-Northwest Conference honors, the 24th-ranked Pirates – after a 1-0 win over seventh-ranked Wheaton on Saturday in the Whitworth Soccer Classic – figure to move up when Division III rankings are released today.
A goal by Mike Chavez in the 34th minute proved to be the winner for Whitworth, which improved to 3-0-1 entering Northwest Conference play.
“We’re excited by the start,” head coach Sean Bushéy said. “There’s still a lot to improve on, but the guys who’ve have been in the program now get to apply what they’ve learned.
“The challenge is getting the onfield experience.”
Two new starters in the center of the back line, junior Andrew Flint and junior transfer Balin Larson, “have really done an excellent job and maintained our stability,” Bushéy said.
The Pirates will open NWC play this weekend by hosting Linfield on Saturday and Willamette on Sunday. Both matches will start at 2:30 p.m.
Bushéy has a 206-89-33 record after 17 seasons as a head men’s soccer coach (196-83-32 in 16 years at Whitworth).
He has led the Pirates to six NWC titles in the last eight years, and seven NWC titles overall. In 2011 the Bucs shared their seventh NWC crown under Bushéy.
The Bulldogs are 2-2 after falling 3-0 to fourth-ranked UC Santa Barbara last weekend in the final match of the Gonzaga Nike Soccer Classic. The Bulldogs trailed only 1-0 when the visitors converted a penalty kick in the 80th minute.
“I thought all the momentum was going our way when they got the PK,” GU coach Einar Thorarinsson said.
The Gauchos (2-0-1) are the highest-ranking team to come to Spokane since No. 3 Santa Clara in 2007.
Gonzaga visits Oregon State on Saturday.
The next home match is the West Coast Conference opener on Sept. 30.
The Cougars improved to 4-1 after a 3-2 win at Wyoming that snapped the Cowgirls’ six-match winning streak.
“We were very fortunate to get the win,” WSU first-year coach Keidane McAlpine said.
“In games like this you have got to find ways to win, and today we were fortunate enough to come out of here with a win.”
The Cougars never trailed, but Wyoming rallied twice to force a 2-2 tie, and in the 81st minute freshman Kourtney Guetlein scored the winner, her second goal of the season. The Cougars face Hawaii at 4 p.m. Thursday.
The Zags suffered their second straight 1-0 loss, this one in overtime against Seattle University. Gonzaga is 5-3 overall entering a two-match road trip ahead.
Gonzaga will play Oregon State University and the University of Oregon in the Nike Invitational.
GU faces the Beavers on Friday and the Ducks on Sunday.
The Eagles (1-4-1) got their first win of the season, a 3-2 victory over Boise State in the Viking Classic in Hillsboro, Ore.
Sophomore Cassie Black scored twice for the Eagles. “Cassie is really starting to find her stride,” head coach George Hageage said.
Black has a .615 on-goal percentage this season, with 13 total shots and eight on goal.
She is Eastern’s top point earner, with four this season.
The Eagles return home this weekend to face Idaho on Friday.
Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. Hawaii visits on Sunday for a 1 p.m. match.
The Vandals women (2-5) fell twice in nonconference matches in Miami, 3-0 to Miami and 6-0 to Florida International.
They return to the Palouse this weekend looking to regroup.
Idaho plays at Eastern Washington on Friday, then hosts the Washington State Cougars on Sunday at noon.
The Pirates took 19th-ranked Augustana (Ill.) to the wire, but fell 2-1 in overtime in the Whitworth Soccer Classic last weekend.
The Pirates (0-4) might have won in regulation if not for an own goal conceded in the 73rd minute.
Tiara Pajimola equalized in the 85th minute for the 0-4 Pirates, who earlier lost 4-0 to fourth-ranked Wheaton (Ill.)
The Pirates open conference play today at Whitman.