Did You Miss the Best Week in Evergreen Sports History?
October 8, 2003
by James J. Portune
Olympia, WA- For more than twenty years varsity sports have been a part of The Evergreen State College campus life. During that time league championships have been won, athletes have received accolades, and hundreds of student-athletes lives have been enriched by the progressive philosophy that is an Evergreen classroom.
In those years there has never been a more successful week in Evergreen sports history, team wise and for individual athletes, than last week. In a five-day period, two nationally ranked and three regionally ranked teams came to play at Evergreen, all left without a victory. On top of that, three players, from three separate sports, were named Cascade Conference and NAIA Region I Player-of-the-Week, with two also being recognized as NAIA National Player of the Week.
Wednesday (Oct. 1), the Women's Soccer team hosted four-time defending Cascade Conference champions Concordia University (4-0-1 Cascade Conference, 8-1-2 Overall), ranked #3 in the nation. Not since 1997 have the Geoducks beaten the Cavaliers in women's soccer.
With a 1-8-1 record heading into the game, the outcome did not look bright for the Geoducks. What Concordia had forgotten was that Evergreen had gained valuable experience in the preseason, playing nationally ranked Simon Fraser and regionally ranked NCAA II Seattle University.
Behind a well orchestrated team effort, led by freshman goalkeeper Carly Stewart (Federal Way, WA/Kennedy HS), Evergreen repelled every Concordia attack, not just for two halves (90 minutes) but also for two additional overtime periods (110 minutes). When both teams left the field exhausted, the scoreboard still read 0-0. Stewart had earned her second shutout of the season and had recorded a season high 16 saves.
"Carly has worked hard all season learning how to be a college goalkeeper," said head coach Arlene McMahon, a former goalkeeper at the University of Washington. "She was very good against Concordia, getting herself in the right position to make the big saves."
To put Stewart's performance in proper perspective, the current school record of 19 saves in a single game was set in 2000, in a 7-0 loss to Simon Fraser. Stewart's 16 saves held the #3 women's soccer team in the nation scoreless, a feat that only one other team this season has duplicated and that game also ended in a 0-0 tie for Concordia.
Thursday (Oct. 2), Concordia University Men's Soccer team (4-1-0 CCC, 7-5-0 Overall), defending Cascade Conference champions, laced up their cleats to play at Evergreen. Three times last season, twice in regular season and once in post-season, the Cavaliers and Geoducks played each other, with Concordia winning all three contest.
A goal by Cavalier forward Joseph Bytebiere in the 9th minute of the game made it look as though the Evergreen-Concordia rivalry would end were it left off last year. But this season the Evergreen Men's Soccer team has one of the most potent offensives in school history. Two unanswered goals by conference leading scorer Joe Gjertsen (Tacoma, WA/Wilson HS) and one goal by senior Chris Langford (Antioch, CA/Deer Valley HS) propelled Evergreen to a convincing 3-1 victory over Concordia.
With only one day of rest, Evergreen returned to the soccer field on Saturday to play Cascade College. The 8-0 shutout by the Geoducks put them back into contention for the league champions, with six games remaining in the season. Gjertsen four goals in that game, which gave him his fourth 'Hat Trick' (3 or more goals) of the season, and goalkeeper Tom Kneeshaw (Eatonville, WA/Eatonville HS) got his second shutout of the year.
Sunday (Oct. 5), the Men's Soccer team hosted Walla Walla College (5-4 Overall) and had no trouble defeating them 9-2. Langford lead the Geoducks with a 'Hat Trick' (3 goals) and 1 assist, Gjertsen put 2 more balls into the back of the net and was also credited with 2 assists, and junior Nathan Ford's (Steilacoom, WA/Steilacoom HS) 2 goals and 3 assists helped him maintain his spot on top of the Cascade Conference 'Assist' category.
Victory wise, the Concordia game was huge," said head coach Tom Boatright, who was a senior defender for Evergreen the last time the Geoducks defeated Concordia - 1986. "What the team also accomplished was that they found their spirit, their will to win, which will be crucial as we begin the second half of the season."
If that wasn't enough excitement in one week for you, then you should have been in the gymnasium to watch the Women's Volleyball team play. Just three years old, the program entered the weekend with a winning record (4-3 CCC, 9-6 Overall), having equaled last years record setting seven wins at Walla Walla College, in Eastern Oregon, the previous weekend.
Friday's (Oct. 3) opponent was Oregon Institute of Technology (6-3 CCC, 12-5 Overall), ranked #6 in the NAIA Region I poll and second in the Cascade Conference standings.
Behind the setting of junior Hannah Plunk (Broomfield, Colo/Broomfield HS) and the hitting of senior outside hitter Stephanie Short (Spokane, WA/Shadle Park HS) and middle blockers Kristen Bartley (Lubbock, TX/Monterey HS) and Meredith Lane (Olympia, WA/Olympia HS) the Geoducks won game #1 easily, 30-23, and followed with a 31-29 victory in game #2. OIT regrouped and won game #3 30-21. Head Coach Bill Lash returned to the line-up he utilized for the first two games and Evergreen had no problem closing out the night with a 30-23 win in game #4. The 3-1 victory was the first time Evergreen had defeated Oregon Tech.
When the game statistics came out of the printer it showed that all three women had recorded double digit kills for Evergreen, Lane with 17, Bartley 16 and Short 11. Bartley also had a game high 4 solo blocks. Having seen the results from Friday night, NAIA #15 and Cascade Conference leader Southern Oregon knew that they would have to bring their best to Evergreen Saturday night.
Senior Kristina Matchett and junior Kristin Ferris did play well for the Raiders, scoring 39 kills between them. But Evergreen played better than Southern Oregon. Once again the trio of Short, Bartley and Lane recorded 10 or more kills, with Lane setting a new school record with 29 Kills on 58 Attempts. The Geoducks also dominated at the net, blocking 19 SOU attacks.
The upset of Southern Oregon took five games. SOU won game #1, 30-23. Evergreen regrouped and won game #2, 30-27, and game #3, 30-28. The Raiders took game #4, 30-21. And, Evergreen pulled out a 16-14 win in game #5. At the end of the night, all the Geoducks fans stood and gave their team a loud ovation.
"It feels good to final beat OIT and Southern Oregon," said Coach Lash. "The down side, is that the weekend of November 7th will now be our toughest road trip of the season. But isn't that why we play this game?"
What makes the week all that more special is that the Evergreen players were recognizes for their accomplishment outside the conference. All three athletes - Stewart, Gjertsen and Lane - were honored as Cascade Conference and NAIA Region I Player of the Week, in their respective sports. Gjertsen and Lane were further honored as NAIA National Player of the Week. Evergreen has had Cascade Conference, NAIA Region and National Player of the Week before, but never three in one week.
Carly Stewart's (green jersey) 16 save-shutout of #3 Concordia earned her Cascade Conference and NAIA Region I.
Player of the Week honors.