Lane women have eyes on big prize

11/07/2015 08:52

Titans host Shoreline on Saturday in NWAC playoffs

By Jarrid Denney | For The Register-Guard
After a successful debut season a year ago, Lane women’s soccer coach Erica Jensen is ready for her team to take the next step in evolving from good to great.
The Titans wrapped up their second consecutive Southern Region title weeks ago, but that was never their primary goal. They have their sights set on the Northwest Athletic Conference title, which would be the first in school history.
Lane was a championship caliber team last season, but took an agonizing exit from the NWAC tournament after a 2-1 double-overtime loss to Peninsula in the semifinals.
“Last year we were happy to be there,” Jensen said. “This year, we aren’t going to be happy unless we’re playing in a championship on Sunday.”
The pursuit of that title begins at noon Saturday when Lane plays host to Shoreline in the second round of the NWAC soccer tournament. As region champs, the Titans earned a first-round bye in the 12-team tournament that will conclude with the final four teams playing Nov. 14-15 in Tukwila, Wash.
The Titans are 13-4-2 overall and finished 10-1-1 in the Southern Region, with Jensen fine-tuning her possession-heavy system and adding the finishing touches to a team that has become one of the most lethal offensive forces in the conference.
Lane is second in the NWAC with 80 goals — nearly double its offensive output from last season — and has surrendered just 13 goals. Only Peninsula has scored more than Lane this season. The key has been a technical style of play and a focus on keeping control of the ball.
“We’re able to definitely create the opportunities that we want to, and that really helps out with our momentum forward and scoring those goals,” sophomore midfielder Anna Goodrie said.
Freshman forward Piakake Hix leads the Titans with 18 goals this season despite playing in just nine matches. She has scored three or more goals four times, including a four-goal effort in a 12-0 victory over Portland Community College.
“She just has really great vision,” Jensen said. “So when she’s not scoring the goals, she’s setting somebody up or she’s connecting the pass that creates for somebody else or she’s making a run to clear space.
“I’m not sure why she’s not playing at the Division I level. I found her late in the game last year and I was like, ‘Why is this kid not signed or committed anywhere?’”
Lane isn’t just a one-player show, though. Goodrie is second on the team with 12 goals and freshman forward Erin Riley has 10, and six other Titans have scored four or more times. Freshman forward Ally King also has eight assists, Hix has six and Goodrie has five.
“It doesn’t matter who scores; as long as somebody’s scoring, we’re all happy,” sophomore midfielder Araceli Jimenez said.
Jensen set up a brutal nonleague schedule that featured four of the top six teams in the conference.
“We wanted to play some really hard teams in some uncomfortable environments,” Jensen said. “We went out of our way to schedule tough so that we could make a deeper run in the playoffs.”