Roster Depth Plays Big Role in Success of Willamette Women's Soccer Team

Rachael Moulton (Jr., D, Seattle, WA/Shorecrest HS)
Rachael Moulton (Jr., D, Seattle, WA/Shorecrest HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SALEM, Ore. -- It's very easy to focus on the top scorer and top goalkeeper for the Willamette University women's soccer team and give lots of value to their performances. After all, Shanna Keil (Jr., F, Danville, CA/San Ramon Valley HS) is tied for the NWC lead with 7 goals and 6 assists and leads the conference with 20 total points. And goalkeeper Kristen Barclay (Jr., GK, Kenmore, WA/Cedar Park Christian School) ranks first in the NWC with a 0.45 goals against average and is second with a .872 save percentage.

All of the value assigned to Keil and Barclay has been earned. They have led the team at each end of the field, with Keil pressing the offense at opposing goal lines and Barclay providing leadership for Willamette's defense. Both have started every game.

Even so, there are many more players who should be included when one thinks about why the Bearcats are having such a successful season. The team's depth has created such a huge impact that Willamette takes a 10-0-3 overall record and a 7-0-3 NWC record into a key conference game at University of Puget Sound on Saturday, Oct. 20 in Tacoma, Washington. Game time is set for 12 p.m. (PDT).

The Bearcats' stats help show the value of this year's depth. Eight players have scored at least one goal and 10 players have earned at least one assist. A total of 18 players have seen action in at least nine games.

Hannah Deighton (Jr., D, Long Beach, CA/Long Beach Polytechnic HS) Jenae Arnold (Jr., M, Poulsbo, WA/North Kitsap HS) and Hannah Deighton (Jr., D, Long Beach, CA/Long Beach Polytechnic HS) have started every game, and have found new ways to help the team win. Arnold has earned two goals and one assist. Deighton has scored twice by getting forward from her position on defense. Other players with 14 starts include Annie Strom (Jr., D, Mount Vernon, WA/Mount Vernon HS) and Karmen Chavez-Sam (Sr., D, Eastvale, CA/Eleanor Roosevelt HS), who both have made strong plays on both offense and defense.

The Bearcats had to start the season without Rachel Fischer (Sr., M, Anchorage, AK/East Anchorage HS), who sustained a season-ending knee injury two days before reporting for practice. Fischer has remained an important part of the team, serving as a team captain and supplying great leadership and encouragement to her teammates. Other team captains are Arnold and Deighton.

Thirteen of Willamette's goals have been scored by Keil or by Gena Main (Jr., F, San Francisco, CA/Gateway HS/Bryn Mawr College), who has six goals. Lacey Jones (So., F, Portland, OR/David Douglas HS) has contributed four goals while making nine starts in 14 games. Sydney Wilson (Fr., M, Olympia, WA/Capital HS) scored both goals off the bench in a 2-0 win over Whitman College on Sept. 30.

The quality of Willamette's depth has been shown by outstanding performances from several other key players. They have supplied a steady approach to each game when starting or entering as a substitute. The Bearcats have remained strong no matter which 11 players are in action at any given time.

Rachael Moulton (Jr., D, Seattle, WA/Shorecrest HS) and Amanda Fong (Sr., F, Kensington, CA/El Cerrito HS) have played great this season. Moulton has been a key player taking long throw-ins and free kicks, and has recorded four assists. Fong has two assists to go along with consistent play on the wing. Kate Matthews (Sr., M, Bainbridge Island, WA/Bainbridge HS) used her experience to lift the level of midfield play and seems to know just when to step forward on offense or help on defense.

Emma Blackburn (Fr., F, Los Altos, CA/Saint Francis HS) Fionn Fortune (Jr., M/F, Alexandria, VA/St. Stephen's & St. Agnes/Hamilton Coll.), in her second season at Willamette, has been a steady offensive force with two goals and 23 total shots. Likewise, Isabel Duxbury (Fr., Seattle, WA/University Prep) has supplied quality play on defense.

 Several young newcomers in Emma Blackburn (Fr., F, Los Altos, CA/Saint Francis HS), Paige Murray (Fr., D, Olympia, WA/Capital HS) and Julia Fecteau (Fr., F, Bend, OR/Bend HS) have been exceptional off the bench and have played with a high work rate and quality efforts. Their level of play as first year collegiate athletes has been a key plus for the Bearcats. 

Everyone else when needed has risen to the level of play. Twenty-four players have stepped onto the field at least once and all have made a positive impact.

It's impressive that the Bearcats have played so well on both offense (27 goals scored) and defense (6 goals allowed). The success has been achieved despite losing Fisher before the season began, and then losing key substitution Caroline Adams (So., M/F, Snohomish, WA/Archbishop Murphy HS) for the year to an injury this past week.

The setbacks have provided opportunities for other athletes to step up and make a difference. The fact that so many team members have taken advantage of their minutes on the field has led to a very successful season so far. And it has the potential to keep the Bearcats in every game they play the rest of the season.