BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Forward Elise Aylward's first collegiate goal proved to be the game-winner as Western Washington posted a 2-1 victory against Seattle Pacific on Thursday in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference contest between two top 25 nationally ranked teams at Orca Field on the Whatcom CC campus.
The Vikings, ranked No. 2 nationally in this week's poll, remained perfect at 8-0-0 and claimed sole possession of first place in the GNAC at 5-0-0.
SPU, rated No.23, had a seven-match winning streak snapped in falling to 7-2-0 and 4-1-0 in conference play.
Aylward's goal came unassisted in the 55th minute, as she dribbled toward the right corner, then cut back inside into the penalty area and hit a low, bouncing shot inside the far post.
"For her to go this long without getting a goal was stunning," WWU coach Travis Connell said. "She's able to beat defenders and get shots off. It was a huge goal and there are going to be a lot more in her career."
The WWU defense took it from there, holding the Falcons to just one shot the rest of the way and none in the final 27 minutes. SPU's best chance came in the dying seconds, as Viking goalkeeper Alyssa Beauchamp narrowly beat Falcon forward Riley Dopps to a ball deep in the penalty area and made a diving effort to force a corner kick. Time expired before the kick could be taken.
For the match, the Vikings had a 17-3 margin in shot attempts, including an 11-1 advantage in the second half.
"We preach defense and it was good tonight," Connell said. "But the stats don't tell the story of how even this game was. We played a very good team and they made it hard on us. We're glad to get this win and keep our momentum going."
The Vikings opened the scoring in the 29th minute as right back Brina Sych, with a defender on her tightly, hit an off-balance shot with her right foot that looped high into the far side of the net from 16 yards out. Kristin Maris and Ashton Griffen had assists.
SPU leveled the score in the 42nd minute as Alexa Diaz hit a rocket from 17 yards out after work down the left side by Heather Young and Josie Graybeal. It was just the second goal allowed by WWU this season, the other being an own goal.
The triumph snapped WWU's five-game series losing streak against the Falcons. SPU still holds an 18-5-3 advantage in the all-time series.