CWU soccer continues to grow

Head coach Michael Farrand has overseen the transition from NAIA to D-II where he has turned CWU into a constant threat.

Head coach Michael Farrand has overseen the transition from NAIA to D-II where he has turned CWU into a constant threat.

Jack Lambert

Jack Lambert

Head coach Michael Farrand has overseen the transition from NAIA to D-II where he has turned CWU into a constant threat.

Ryan Kinker, Sports Senior Reporter

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Since the creation of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference in 2001, women’s soccer has been controlled by CWU’s rivals, Seattle Pacific University (SPU) and Western Washington University (WWU). Both schools have won a Division II National Championship in the last decade (2008 for SPU and 2016 for WWU) and have been the only two teams in the conference to win over 100 conference matches.

This season, CWU women’s soccer bucked the trend by placing second in the conference with a 14-6-1 record, which tied the school record for wins in a season. The team also made the NCAA Division II Tournament for the first time in school history.

[Playing in the tournament] “was so cool,” said senior midfielder Keilin Farrand, daughter of head coach Michael Farrand. “Especially since we missed it last year by one game.”

Despite playing in a conference with a clear hierarchy, Michael Farrand has stuck with the team through rough seasons. After posting a 12-6-1 record in 2000, at the time tying the school record for wins in a season, the Wildcats did not post a winning season until 2008. From 2001 to 2007, the Wildcats went 39-91-11, averaging less than six victories per season.

“I’ve seen the whole progress of a who we were as a program in 2000 to who we are in 2017,” Michael Farrand said. “The journey through Division II regional play is just brutal.”

Since 2008, the team has gone 77-73-18 and has placed fourth or better in the conference six times.

“We couldn’t do what we do without him,” junior midfielder Mackenzie Nolte said. “It’s been cool to be part of something that’s growing into something we can see how we’re making an impact. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves… because the outcomes don’t show what goes on.”

Nolte, who is among the 71 student-athletes honored on an all-conference team during Farrand’s tenure, is also among the 100 student-athletes who have made the academic all-conference team since 2001, with a 3.61 GPA as a psychology major.

“Basically everyone strives to get good grades and you don’t want to be the one that’s not,” Nolte said. “You also want to succeed. You really have to stay on top of everything so it’s tough but doable.”

Farrand credits the Athletic Department and its support for leading to academic success.

“With Mal Stewman at the Academic Success Center, the foundation our athletes get as freshman, nobody does it better than us,” Michael Farrand said. “Our girls are motivated, they want to be successful in the classroom and they know a lot of them will be doing post-bac work and their grades matter now.”

Senior midfielder Keilin Farrand and her older sister, former CWU forward Hadli Farrand, have both made all-conference and academic all-conference while playing under their father, including making first-team all-conference as seniors.

“There’s been kind of pressure being the coach’s daughter and a lot of pressure on him to stay impartial,” Keilin Farrand said. “ It’s been great learning from him, all my life. Any success I had is probably because of him and the team and the culture he has made.”

The Wildcats will lose many seniors, including all-conference defenders Allie Bohnett and Jessica Haga, midfielder Reilly Retz and Farrand’s daughter Keilin Farrand, but the coach expect many of the younger players to step up next season.

“I tease this group a little bit about starting 11 of the same core of girls as last year,” Michael Farrand said. “Probably the biggest key in this year’s turnaround has been the depth of our roster. We played 18 field players all year, and that allowed us to rest most of our key girls and take some mileage off their legs. In years past, when we got to postseason we were playing with 13 or 14 girls. We’re not built that way anymore, we have a great deep roster of girls, a lot of underclassmen who contributed to us this last year.”

Coach Farrand believes that the level of success that CWU women’s soccer has attained is still only the launching pad for future success.

“It was a super year,” Farrand said. “The hard part is getting here, that’s the hardest part. That battle has now been won, so now the hardest part is ‘can we stay here’. Hopefully we’re not one and done and this group can stay here and does even better and we get to Western and we beat them twice and then we’re on our way to regionals and nationals. We’re excited and we’re honored and grateful for the university and our support.”

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CWU soccer continues to grow