Women’s soccer looks to make it five in a row against Denver Pioneers

Bradley Piros , Sports Editor

The Western Illinois University women’s soccer team (6-5-1) will head to Colorado to take on the University of Denver Pioneers (4-4-3) tomorrow night. The teams have squared off against each other five times in the past with the Leathernecks taking a loss each game. Last season, the Pioneers beat Western 3-0 in Macomb.

Last year’s 3-14-1 campaign for the Leathernecks was a bit disappointing, but they’ve put that behind them and have been off to a great start in 2019. Western is currently riding a four-game win streak and is 2-0 in conference play. So, if the Leathernecks were to “upset” Denver, this is the time to do it.

Western has shut out their opponents for three straight games. Back on Sept. 30, the Leathernecks beat Chicago State University 1-0 with the lone goal coming from sophomore forward Amy Andrews in the second half. Back on Oct. 3, Western began conference play with another 1-0 win, this time against the University of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks. The goal was converted by junior midfielder Jenna Lundgren in the 38th minute. She made a move inside the 18-yard box and drew a penalty kick. She stepped up to the spot and confidently put the ball in the back of the net for the game-winning goal.

The last time out for Western was on Sunday when they took on the Purdue University Fort Wayne Mastodons. Western won 2-0 with goals from sophomore defender Zoe Clarke and junior forward Lauryn Peters. Clarke broke the tie in the 55th minute with a beautiful free kick and then Peters doubled the lead only four minutes later. Clarke got the assist on the goal when she swung the ball in from a corner kick and Peters headed it in to make it 2-0.

Western has been dominating their opposition lately, so much so that for the first time in program history, Western won both the offensive and defensive Summit League Player of the Week Awards.

With Clarke’s goal and assist against the Mastodons, she earned her first player of the week honor of her career. Assistant coach Josee Primeau was happy for her player.

“Zoe has played very well so far this season. Having her score the opening goal against Purdue Fort Wayne really helped our morale in that game and gave our girls the boost we needed to push through the rest of the match,” Primeau said in an interview with WIU Athletics Communications. “I’m extremely happy for her and can’t wait to see her play this week.”

A good team is only as good as their goalkeeper, which in this case is very good. Senior Ines Palmiero Herrera earned defensive player of the week for her second time, earning her first back on Oct. 9, 2017 (her sophomore season).

With three straight shutout victories, it’s no question why she received this honor. Palmiero Herrera recently climbed up into fourth all-time with 234 career saves. She led The Summit League last season and currently sits third in The Summit with 57 so far this season. She made 13 saves against the Mastodons to pick up her seventh career shutout.

“She (Ines) has worked incredibly hard for us this year and has helped us maintain a clean sheet in our last three matches,” Primeau said. “She came up big for us this weekend in our League opening weekend and we’re very excited to see what else her senior year has in store.”

Western still has a tough task ahead of them in the Pioneers and they can’t assume another victory. Denver has scored 10 goals in 11 games, seven of them coming from only three different players. Denver has a front three that Western could have a difficult time shutting down.

Sophomore forward Samantha Feller leads the team with seven points (three goals, one assist). Fellow sophomore forward Camryn MacMillan has two goals and an assist on the year as well as senior midfielder Hannah Adler. Western’s defense has been very strong lately and the Pioneers will be testing just how strong they really are tomorrow night.

Western will be fighting to stay undefeated in The Summit League while Denver will be looking for their first conference win. It should be an exceptional game between two quality teams. Kick off is set for 8 p.m. in Denver. The Leathernecks will return home on Sunday to face North Dakota University at noon.

Twitter: @bradjp08