Fall athletics wrap-up

by Chris Thompson

Trips to post-season championships for women’s soccer, volleyball, and cross country

As the two-time defending Northwest Conference All-Sports Trophy winners, the Puget Sound Loggers entered the fall with a target on their backs, but that didn’t prevent them from having the best fall of any team in the conference.

Highlighting the season were trips to the NCAA Division III Championship by men’s and women’s cross country, women’s soccer, and volleyball. The men’s soccer team was 15-3-1 but not selected for the NCAA Championship, while the football squad finished an injury-riddled campaign with a 4-5 overall record.

The women’s soccer team won its sixth consecutive NWC title in 2007, after breezing through the regular season with a record of 18-1-1. In the playoffs the women won a pair of games at home to earn a trip to their fifth sectional tournament in the last six seasons. The Loggers made it all the way to the final before falling to the defending national champion Wheaton College ( Illinois), 2 goals to 0. The Loggers were led in 2007 by NWC Offensive Player of the Year Janece Levien ’09, who scored 25 goals, a new school record. Puget Sound finished the season 21-2-1.

The men’s soccer team spent the entire season in the national rankings, but their record wasn’t quite good enough to earn them a berth in the NCAA Championship. Greg Swanson ’08, Scott Blanchet ’08, and Mark Conrad ’08 were all named First Team All-NWC.

The Logger volleyball squad also advanced deep into the NCAA Division III Championships. After earning an at-large bid into the West Regional, Puget Sound put together wins over Nebraska Wesleyan, NWC champion Pacific Lutheran, and La Verne to qualify for the national quarterfinal in Bloomington, Ill. While the Loggers lost to Wisconsin-Whitewater to end the season, they are eager for a rematch in 2008. Monica Groves ’08 and Rachel Gross ’08 were both named First Team All-NWC as well as First Team All-West Region after strong finishes to their Logger careers.

The women’s cross country team earned its second straight berth in the NCAA Division III Championships this fall. Facing a tough field, the UPS women tied for 23rd at the national championship meet in Northfield, Minn. Brittany Hodgson ’08 earned All-America honors for the Loggers via a 33rd place finish, while Kenna Patrick ’11 finished 51st in her first NCAA Championship.

Representing the Logger men’s cross country team was Francis Reynolds ’10, who finished 88th in the competitive field.

For the Logger football team, injuries were the primary story line in 2007, as a number of key players were sidelined during the season. After quarterback Kavin Williams ’09 went down with an injury during the first game of the season, Spencer Crace ’10 filled in nicely, leading the Loggers to a Homecoming win over Willamette. Offensive lineman Steve Palmer ’08 represented the Loggers on the First Team All-NWC squad. Palmer was also named to the AFCA’s 2007 Aztec Bowl squad and represented both Puget Sound and the United States on Dec. 8 in Chihuahua, Mexico.

By virtue of the conference title in women’s soccer and runner-up finishes in volleyball and women’s cross country, the Loggers took a two-point lead in the race for the 2007–08 NWC All-Sports Trophy.