by Matt Benoit
Even though the Whatcom Orcas failed to win the NWAACC’s North Region for the first time in the team’s history, they still had a season to be proud of.
“We played really well this year,” said head coach Josh Turpen. “I think [that in] every game we played over the course of the year we outplayed the other team.”
The Orcas finished the regular season with a record of 6 wins, 6 losses, and 1 tie, and began the postseason on their home turf of Orca Field with a 4-0 shutout of Pierce Community College on Nov. 10.
Forward Jon Drayer scored two goals for Whatcom to give the team a 2-0 lead by the game’s thirty-eighth minute, and forwards Nino Tursic and Connor Shipman added goals in the seventieth and eightieth minutes, respectively, to advance the Orcas to the second round of the playoffs. The game featured five yellow cards and one red card.
In the team’s next matchup on Nov. 13, Whatcom faced Peninsula Community College in Port Angeles, a team which Turpen said the Orcas have historically had difficulty beating. To make matters more difficult for Whatcom, the field conditions for the game were wet and muddy.
“The field was nasty,” said Turpen.
And in the end, those factors helped add up to a 2-1 loss for Whatcom.
Nino Tursic gave the Orcas an early lead with an eighth minute goal, but Peninsula’s Miguel Gonzalez answered back with what Turpen called two “soft” goals in the forty-fifth and fiftieth minutes to give his team a lead they would not relinquish.
“Peninsula was a tough team,” said Turpen. “They were organized.”
Whatcom has now lost in the quarter-final round of the playoffs for three consecutive years, but Turpen says it’s not winning the North that was most disappointing to his players.
“The guys took it pretty hard,” Turpen said of losing the North Region title to Shoreline. “To make it worse, this was one of the most talented teams we’ve had. We were just making little mistakes.”
Whatcom’s season was plagued with injuries to several key players.
Forward Alex Couweleers played with a bruised shin for most of the year until a sprained knee put him out of commission with about a month left in the season.
Mid-fielder Dalton Rockwell missed two weeks during the regular season with a knee injury, and defender Nick Rader suffered perhaps the worst injuries, breaking his nose in a game against Walla Walla and his jaw in a household accident, the latter of which caused Raider to miss the last month of the season.
There were also bright spots at season’s end. Tursic was named NWAACC MVP for the North Region, scoring 18 goals during the year.
Forward Andy Mihovilovich and defender Ivan Ocampo were also named North Region all-stars, and Turpen was named North Region coach of the year. In addition, Rockwell, Couweleers, and Adrian Tarkington were named to the North’s All-Region team.
All in all, Turpen says he’s pleased with the way his team started and ended their season, overcoming a mid-season lull and contending for the North right down to the year’s final regular season game.
“We didn’t give up,” he said, adding that next year the team expects to be back on top in the North and, hopefully, finally break through and get back to the semi-final round of the playoffs.
“We’re always gonna be talented enough to do it,” said Turpen. “We just gotta get the job done.”
The 2010 soccer season was a tough one for the Whatcom women’s soccer team. While the team did not play well enough to be a threat for the North Region title, they did play well enough to stay in postseason contention entering the season’s final regular season game on Nov. 8.
That game, played on the team’s home turf of Orca Field, pitted Whatcom against Shoreline Community College to determine the third and final playoff berth in the North Region, as both teams had entered the game tied for third place in the standings.
In the end, Shoreline won the match by a final score of 1-0, ending Whatcom’s season with a fourth place finish in the NWAACC North Region and a record of 5 wins, 8 losses, and 1 tie.
On the positive side, several players were given postseason recognition.
Defender Chantel Green was named to the North-East Division All-Star team, and Tanya Haggen, Rachel Paulson, and Bailey Richardson were all named to the North’s All-Region team.
The Whatcom Orcas volleyball team found themselves at the top of the NWAACC North Region this season, and headed into the NWAACC Championship Tournament at Mt. Hood Community College seeking an overall league title.
And while they’d have to settle to seventh place in the tournament, it was still a great season for the team. Whatcom finished tied for first place in the North Region standings with Shoreline, putting the Orcas at the top of the season-ending standings for the first time since the 2007 season.
In the championship tournament held Nov. 18 to 21 in Gresham, Oregon, Whatcom advanced to the second round after defeating Clackamas Community College 3-1. The team then recorded a 3-2 loss against Spokane and a 2-0 victory over Shoreline in the loser’s bracket. Their season ended on the tournament’s third day with a 2-0 loss to Tacoma, giving Whatcom a seventh place finish overall.
In postseason honors, players Kaitie Brush, Sabrina Schwindler, Alex Storino, and Emily Jovanovich were named to the NWAACC North Region All-Star team, and Schwindler, Storino, and Leah Pheifer were named to the NWAACC Fall Sophomore All-Academic Team for volleyball.
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