Penguins keep building up women’s soccer

Clark hosts Whatcom in NWAC quarterfinal

By Andy Buhler, Columbian staff writer

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The Clark College women’s soccer team is on the brink of history.

The Penguins won its region for the second season in a row. Now, a win against Whatcom Community College of Bellingham will advance the team to the semifinals for the first time as a program.

Kickoff is 3 p.m. Saturday at Clark College.

“It’d be a game-changer for us,” coach Sean Janson said. “Cements us as one of the top programs in the league, help us for recruiting and, most importantly, establish a legacy for the sophomores to be on the two best teams in program history.”

Janson directed credit to his eight sophomores for upholding the standard set by the undefeated South Region team last season — particularly the captains Maddison Maffeo, Riley Smetzler and Sarah Kaufman. He pointed to his 13 freshmen for rising to that standard in their first season.

Kaufman, a goalkeeper, along with forwards Facienne Graham, Madison Ochoa, Rylee MacDonald, Smetzler, right wing Tori Dykstra and Maffeo (plus goalkeeper Abby Diller, who is redshirting) are the sophomores on the roster and have taken part in a lot of wins at Clark.

Facienne has 14 goals, a team-high, and nine assists on the season. Freshman Sarah Teubner leads the Penguins with 12 assists.

With a higher turnover rate than the typical four-year school sports team, establishing a culture is the most important part of success at the junior college level, Janson said.

“You can’t reinvent the wheel every year,” he said.

The culture he’s tried to build at Clark can be tracked with the program’s steady rise in the four years he’s been at the helm of the women’s program.

Four years ago Clark took third in the division and made the playoffs. The next year the team went undefeated, placed third and lost the region by one point. Then last year the Penguins went undefeated (with a tie) and won the division.

“We’ve gotten incrementally better every year,” Janson said.

Whatcom (13-5-1, 9-5-1 NWAC North) defeated North Idaho 1-0 in overtime on Wednesday on a goal by Columbia River High grad Alexis Dettling to advance to play the Penguins. This year’s Penguins (12-2-1, 11-0-1 NWAC South), who got a first round bye, outscored NWAC opponents 57-4.

A win would pit the Penguins against the winner of Spokane and Highline on Friday at 3 p.m. at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila.

And the team say they’re ready to prove they can carry that through to a record season.