Women’s soccer in the Big Sky Conference is back in action, and Portland State kicked off their season opener against Seattle University on Aug. 21 in a hard fought 2-0 loss. Goalkeeper Enya Hernandez had seven saves for the Vikings this match. The Redhawks scored a goal in the 17th minute and solidified the win with the second goal in the 81st minute. The Viks plan to turn it around against Western Oregon University on Aug. 27 in Monmouth, Oregon.
No need to panic about this loss, though. Seattle U is a difficult team to play. The Redhawks ended their season last year with a record of 12-5-2 overall in their conference, and were the runner up in the Western Athletic Conference. The Redhawks averaged 14.6 shots per game last year while their opponents averaged 9.6 per game. In this match, Seattle U had 17 shots while PSU had shots by 6 different Viks, including sophomore Ani Jensen and freshman Abi Hoffman. This is the Redhawks’ eighth win against PSU.
The PSU women’s soccer team played two exhibition games before their season opener, showing promising results. 17 athletes returned to the women’s soccer team hopeful this year, following our goodbye to eight Class of 2021 graduates. 2019 All-Big Sky Honorable Mention defender Liz Hansen, Academic All-Big Sky from 2017 to 2020 forward Megan Cornett and 2019 Big Sky All-Conference Honorable Mention Teà Poore return this season as redshirt seniors because of their eligibility.
The first match was against Oregon Tech and the other with Bellevue College. The Vikings dominated in both matches, 4–0 and 6–0, respectively. This season, Portland State was picked ninth in the Big Sky preseason coaches’ poll, 3 votes above Idaho. With that in mind, head coach Katie Burton enters her fifth season with the team as she looks to lead the Viks to their first Big Sky tournament since 2019, after ending the previous season 0–8–0 and finishing last in the Big Sky.
There are six new Viks on the roster this season looking to make some noise and shake up the preseason coaches’ poll predictions. These newcomers already have some experience under their belt.
The Viks will finally have two goalkeepers on the roster this year. Sidney O’Billovich, a sophomore transfer out of New Mexico State, is accompanied by junior Enya Hernandez, who spent the past two seasons as the only goalkeeper on the roster. The Viks also have two new freshman defenders on the roster: defender Riley Larsen is a three-year letterwinner and the 2017 state champion at Issaquah High School in Washington. Parker Reichner is the second defender, a two-time state champion with the Westside Timbers and was with the Portland Thorns academy from 2016–2020.
Two new freshman midfielders and one transfer junior are on the 2021 roster as well. Midfielder Abi Hoffman is a 2019 All-American and 2019 Offensive Player of the Year. The Viks have a new midfielder in Hannah Grady, who transferred from Mt. San Antonio College in California. The last freshman is midfielder Lucy Quinn, who was named a Top 25 Midfielder in the state of Oregon and played seven seasons with the Westside Timbers. She is also a two-time Oregon State Cup finalist.
The Viks begin conference play on Sept. 26 against Sacramento State, who they fell to twice last season and once in overtime in a tight, low scoring match. Another notable home match for the Vikings is Friday, Oct. 8, when the Eastern Washington Eagles come to town. Only ranked seventh in the preseason poll with a season record of 5–4–2 last year, the Eagles are already winless at 0–2–0 this season.
Idaho squares off with the Viks two days later, ranked at fourth in the preseason poll. The Viks end their regular season defending their home field against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks. The Jacks are projected to be first in the conference and were 7–2–1 last season. They made it to the tournament final in Ogden, Utah against the Montana Griz, though the final match was unfortunately cancelled due to COVID-19.
As things slowly start to get back to normal, the Vikings hope to play a full regular season with entrance to the Big Sky tournament, as new freshmen are looking to prove themselves and redshirt seniors are looking to add a little more to their resumes.
The Vikings’ next home game is on Sunday, Aug. 29 at Hillsboro Stadium. They will take on the Gonzaga Bulldogs, who won their season opener against PSU rival Eastern Washington. With no hesitation, the Zags dropped four goals on the Eagles, three in the first 45 and one in the second half, giving them their first clean sheet of the season. A fresh start is here for the Rose City team with strong newcomers to lead the team for the future.