soccer -- Boxers look to get back on track after going winless last week

After a red-hot start, Pacific's two soccer teams have gone suddenly and unexpectedly cold.

The Pacific men opened with five wins in their first six games, but swallowed a rough 4-1 loss against Linfield last Wednesday and a 0-0 tie on the road against George Fox on Saturday.

Pacific's women, meanwhile, started with convincing wins over Cascade and Oregon Tech, but have since dropped five straight, including a pair of losses to Lewis and Clark and George Fox last week.

The effort to regroup will have to come away from the friendly confines of Tom Reynolds Field - where the teams are a combined 7-2-2 this year - as the Boxers embark on a two-game road trip this weekend to Willamette and Puget Sound.

That will be no small feat for the Pacific men, who are 0-2-1 away from home this year and winless in their last 12 road matches dating back to last season.

The Boxers' best shot at a win this weekend will come against Willamette on Saturday. The Bearcats, under first-year head coach Nelson Larson, have struggled to a 1-8-1 (0-4-1) record so far. Willamette has been outscored 23-5 on the season and outshot 224-115, with no player scoring more than one goal.

A win versus Puget Sound (6-0-1, 3-0-1) will be a taller order, as the undefeated Loggers are currently ranked No. 8 in the NSCAA/Adidas Division III national poll. Byron Conforti leads a potent Puget Sound offense with four goals and 11 points in seven matches.

Pacific will lean on its own offensive star - senior forward Matt McDonough, whose six goals are tops on the team and second in the Northwest Conference. McDonough has already matched his single-season high for goals scored and is coming off last week's selection as NWC Offensive Player of the Week.

The Pacific women have the unenviable task of snapping their losing streak against two of the top teams in the conference. Willamette (9-0-1, 6-0-0) is unbeaten in its last 13 matches and ranked No. 6 in the nation. Puget Sound (5-1-3, 3-1-2), meanwhile, currently sits in third place in the conference standings and 17th nationally.

The Boxers have been hobbled by injuries of late, losing Katie Dolphin, Cory Arashiro and Rose Donahoue for the year. In addition, Anna Saban-Roach, Meghan Hilson and starting keeper Shannon Tillman all missed time last week due to injuries.

Junior Sarah Chrusoskie, who last saw time in goal back in 2004, started both games last week after Tillman injured her shoulder against Whitworth. Chrusoskie had 11 saves in the two games - both losses - and will have her work cut out for her this week against two solid clubs.

The bigger challenge for Pacific, however, will be finding the back of the net. After opening the season with seven goals in their first two games, the Boxers have mustered just five goals in their last seven matches. Making matters worse is the fact that Willamette keeper Kari Woody has allowed just two goals in 10 matches this year (0.21 goals against average), while Puget Sound netminder Kallie Wolfer boasts a 0.79 goals against average.

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