WALLA WALLA, Wash. - After opening the Northwest Conference season last week with two road victories apiece, the Whitman College women's and men's soccer teams face a pair of strong opponents this weekend at the Whitman Athletic Fields.

Pacific Lutheran on Saturday and Puget Sound on Sunday provide the opposition. The women's games start both days at noon with the men's games to follow at about 2:30 p.m. 

Both Whitman teams begin the weekend with a share of first place in the NWC standings.

The Missionary women (2-0 NWC, 4-1 overall) share the top spot with their Puget Sound (2-0, 4-1) and Pacific (2-0, 3-3) counterparts. On the men's side, Whitman (2-0, 4-0-4) sits in the top spot with Whitworth (2-0, 6-0-1).

Corina Gabbert, a Whitman junior and one of this week's NWC Offensive Student-Athletes of the Week, leads the conference in scoring with six goals in her first five games. First-year forward Amy Hasson has one goal and two assists, and junior keeper Courtney Porter posted shutouts in last weekend's two games.

Todd Wallenius, a junior forward, leads the Whitman men in scoring with four goals. Senior Stephen Phillips, also a reigning NWC Offensive Student-Athlete of the Week, has two goals and three assists. Five other players -- Cole Rathjen, Jason Shon, Sam Chasan, Jasper Lipton and Jordan Thomas -- have one goal each, and Marc Nabelek has chipped in with two assists. Senior keeper Brett Axelrod has three shutouts.

Here's a look at this weekend's opponents:

Saturday's Games vs. PLU

When it comes to Pacific Lutheran, the Whitman women's team has enjoyed a good bit of success in recent seasons, posting a 4-2-2 record over the past three years. Courtney Porter shut out PLU once last fall and once in 2006. The storyline has been far different for the men's team, which has dropped four consecutive 1-0 squeakers to the Lutes. 

The PLU men, 2-3-1 to start the 2008 campaign, have played just one NWC game thus far, battling Pacific to a scoreless tie last weekend. The Lutes have outscored their opponents by a combined 9-7 margin, although that count includes a 6-2 rout of St. Mary's (Minn.) early this month. Three players have two goals apiece for the PLU offense while keeper Daniel Mangum has two shutouts to his credit.  

The PLU women opened their NWC season with two losses last weekend and are 1-3-1 overall. The Lutes have scored just three goals in five games. First-year forward Laura Bressler has two of those goals, and keeper Kamryn Morgan has one shutout. 

Sunday's Games vs. UPS
 
The Whitman women face one of their toughest tasks of the season when Puget Sound rolls into town. The Loggers have won the past six NWC titles and are favored again this fall. Over the past three seasons, however, the Missionaries have given the champs a good battle, earning two ties and dropping two other games by a single goal.
 
Puget Sound's Janece Levien, last year's NWC Offensive Player of the Year, has five goals and one assist so far this fall. Logger goalkeeper Kallie Wolfer, who nabbed defensive Player of the Year honors in 2007, has one shut out.

The Whitman men, in splitting a pair of 1-0 decisions with UPS last season, broke a long losing streak at the hands of the Loggers. Defender Kevin Sigley, assisted by Stephen Phillips, had the lone goal in the Missionary victory. Brett Axelrod made nine saves for the shutout.

The Loggers take records of 2-3-1 and 0-0-1 into their Saturday game at Whitworth. Kyle Benson has three goals to pace the UPS scoring.

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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; holden@whitman.edu