OLYMPIA, Wash. — Chloe Welch, Jacquie Galvez and Megan McArthur all got on the board and the Southern Oregon University women's soccer team stayed in the hunt for the Cascade Conference's No. 2 seed with a 3-1 win at Evergreen on Thursday afternoon.
A corner by Galvez set up Welch's goal, her second of the year, to put the Raiders (9-4-2 overall, 5-2-1 conference) ahead for good in the fourth minute. With the victory, SOU clinched its fourth straight postseason appearance.
Galvez snuck in a 30-yarder in the 21st minute, her second score of the season, and Kendra Madaras Kelly hooked up McArthur's third goal in the 76th minute.
The Geoducks fell to 3-11-0 and 2-6-0. They got their lone score from Delaney Smith, who connected with Rayna Murphy in the 82nd minute.
SOU had a sizable advantage in shots, 22-12, and shots on goal, 10-4.
Galvez and Madaras-Kelly now have two assists apiece this season.
The win set up a meaningful regular-season finale Saturday at Northwest. If the Raiders win and top-ranked Concordia defeats Corban, SOU will get the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament — meaning a first-round bye and a semifinal home date.
SOU Women Tip-off
It shouldn't take long for Lynn Kennedy, Southern Oregon University's ninth-year head women's basketball coach, to find out which loaded word fits his Raiders better: rebuilt or transformed.
Either way, he's sure they're going to be hard to recognize. Kennedy brought in 11 new players to fill out his 2013-14 roster, and seeing all freshmen and sophomores on the floor was something he had started getting used to after the team's first two scrimmages.
There is a core of returning starters — sophomore point guard Ashley Claussen and preseason all-conference selections Allison Gida, a senior wing, and Carly Meister, a sophomore post — and then there is a supporting cast that will make the Raiders a different kind of dangerous than they were while going 22-10 last season.
"We're fast, we're athletic and I think we're better shooters," Kennedy said. "It should be fun to see where our scoring output goes from last year to this year because our posts are maturing, too. But we need to knock down a lot more shots."
The Raiders will unveil their new look this weekend in the SOU Women's Basketball Classic at Bob Riehm Arena. They play California Maritime at 3 p.m. today, and on Saturday host Pacific Union in a nightcap scheduled to get underway at 10:30 p.m.
Picked to finish fourth in the Cascade Conference, the Raiders know they can depend on the scoring of Gida, who is one of two seniors on the roster along with forward Kiara Moore. Gida, a versatile 5-foot-11 lefty, was third on the team with 12.7 points per game last season while shooting at a 45.1-percent clip. She also averaged 4.7 rebounds. The degree to which Claussen has progressed could have an even more direct relationship with SOU's ceiling. Kennedy believes the Scotts Valley, Calif., native can emerge as one of the top point guards in the conference after starting 30 of 31 games as a freshman. She averaged six points, 3.5 rebounds, three assists and shot 50 percent from 3-point range.
"We're looking for more speed and tempo from her on offense and more aggression with her pressure on defense," Kennedy said. "She's becoming more of a leader and I think she's going to take that next step."
Kristen Schoenherr and Bree Park will step in at the guard positions after standout stints in junior college. Schoenherr was the MVP of the NWAACC's West Region, averaging 16.5 points and 8.8 rebounds on 59 percent shooting, and Park averaged 18.6 points and led the NWAACC in 3-point makes with 42 percent accuracy.
Brenna Anderson, a 6-2 junior, will provide some experience and depth along with Kristin Smeaton.
A number of freshmen are also expected to step in and contribute in the backcourt. Demi Sahlinger put up 20 points per game in high school and can play either guard position, and Autumn Durand did about the same off the ball. Tiani Bradford and Majerle Reeves have impressed in practice, too.
The increase in knock-down shooters, Kennedy hopes, will open up the post for Meister, who last year was the CCC's co-freshman of the year. Coming off an ACL surgery, she started only six games but blossomed late on her way to averages of 7.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 60-percent shooting.
"She keeps getting better and stronger," Kennedy said. "She was kind of tentative in the first part of the year coming off the injury, but we're really excited about what we saw when she got more comfortable."
Cambie Edwards proved to be an adept scorer at Whatcom C.C. (Wash.), where she put up 12.8 points and 7.6 rebounds, and the 6-footer will be joined in the frontcourt by 6-2 Kiara Moore and 6-3 Karlie Wilhelmi.
"The bench is deeper than it's been but it's also younger," Kennedy said. "If we can just continue to get better every day, I think we'll be OK by the time conference starts up."
The Raiders were at their best toward the end of last season when they won seven of eight, including the program's first conference tournament triumph in three years.
The Raiders have more than a month before Concordia comes to Ashland to open CCC play on Dec. 6. They'll stand up to a considerable measuring stick Monday when they play an exhibition at Boise State.