WALLA WALLA — Both the Walla Walla Community College men’s and women’s soccer teams will share a common thread on Saturday when they compete in the NWAACC semifinals at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila.
Both will oppose Chemeketa for the right to advance to Sunday’s championship contests.
The top-ranked Warrior women (19-1 overall) will kick things off against Chemeketa (12-1-1) at 11 a.m. on Saturday while defending champion Columbia Basin (14-3-2) opposes Tacoma (9-6) at 1:30. The losers meet Sunday at 10 a.m. for third place while the winners face off for the NWAACC crown at 2 p.m.
On the men’s side, fourth-ranked and 2008 titleholder WWCC (13-3-1) plays No. 1 Chemeketa (18-0-2) at 4 p.m. That will be followed by a tussle between Spokane (9-8-4) and Bellevue (12-4-4) at 6:30. Consolation and championship matches on Sunday are set for noon and 4 p.m., respectively.
Both Walla Walla squads enter the weekend off of quarterfinal triumphs. The women shut out Shoreline, 4-0, and the men blanked Highline, 1-0.
Both wins were achieved at Warrior Field.
The WWCC women’s program has claimed seven straight East Division titles and is seeking its fifth consecutive entry into the championship match.
However, Walla Walla has come up short in its previous four quests for the NWAACC title (2005-08).
"It’s been a lot of years where we’ve been talented enough to win it," WWCC coach Chad Bodnar said. "This year, we took a different approach. We gave the kids Sunday and Monday off, trained Tuesday, and took Wednesday off."
The Warriors were scheduled to have their final two training sessions on the turf of Starfire Stadium.
"We figured we were not going to get any better training on grass," Bodnar said. "We want to get it done. The girls are feeling good about where they’re at. If we play the way we can, we’ll win."
WWCC beat Chemeketa twice last year, but Bodnar is not taking anything for granted.
"They are much improved," Bodnar said. "I don’t know much about them, but this is more about us."
The Walla Walla men’s team, which clinched the program’s fifth league championship in six seasons a couple of weeks ago, has its hands full it would appear. If the Warriors are to reach Sunday’s finale, they’ll have to contain Chemeketa’s Gustavo Bermudez — who leads the NWAACC with 30 goals.
"Our defenders will have to take into account where Gus is," Bodnar said. "We’ll be changing things a little bit, but we can’t sit in and defend for 90 minutes.
"We’re the underdog — playing a team that hasn’t lost all year," Bodnar said. "Anybody we play is going to be tough.
"There’s a lot of tradition and pride in what we do," Bodnar said. "This (the 2009 Warrior team) is not a group that yells, screams, or jumps around.
They’re mild-mannered and hard to read, but they understand what we have to do and what we’re up against."