Written by Student Assistant Christian Bond
TACOMA, Wash. – After collecting three shutouts at home to open Northwest Conference play, the 18th-ranked Pacific Lutheran University women's soccer team looks to continue the trend as they hit the road on Sunday, traveling to Salem, Oregon to face Willamette University.
The Lutes (6-1, 3-0) homestand began with a 3-0 whitewash of Pacific University before notching 1-0 wins over both Linfield College and University of Puget Sound. Machaela Graddy has been a big factor in PLU's early season success, scoring or assisting on four of the five goals in conference play.
For Graddy, family is everything. Along with her three sisters, Graddy has been the recipient of endless support from her parents Bobby and Robin. For all of their children, if one couldn't attend a sporting event, band concert, or other activity, the other was there. It's support that Graddy no doubt is aware of.
"My parents are probably two of the largest positive influences in my life," Graddy said. "My entire life they have worked so hard to give me and my sisters everything we needed, and they put their lives on hold."
In 2014, Graddy was preparing to take on college. The Eatonville native was close to home at PLU. She was excited to play college soccer in front of her family.
Suddenly, they were gone.
After a season of getting to play in front of her parents, they had to move. In February of 2015, Graddy's father received a promotion, leading the family to move to Colorado, while Graddy stayed at PLU.
"It's been hard because my parents are my biggest fans," Graddy said. "I've learned that in order for a family to succeed, sometimes you have to make sacrifices and you most definitely have to work through whatever you are going through so the family could succeed. This is easily applicable to being a good teammate, in order for the team to succeed you have to make sacrifices for the team and you have to push through personal problems for the good of the team."
Graddy has experienced incredible success at PLU. She's the reigning Northwest Conference Offensive Player of the Year. She's currently the NWC Offensive Player of the Week, an honor she's earned twice in three weeks. Currently, she leads the conference in shots (26), points (11), and assists (5) while ranking second in the league in goals (three). Additionally the senior sits ninth in program history in both goals (32) and points (81), while sitting 10th in career assists (17).
Graddy has found strength from friends and teammates alike.
"I've found strength from Erik, my boyfriend," Graddy said. "I've been with him for quite a while and we met at high school so he's my little piece of home away from home. Also his family has been a second family to me and is always there for me if I need anything. Not only that, but I've had an amazing group of "substitute" parents from the soccer team. After every game Hailey Smoot's mom will make sure to find me to give me a hug for my mom and dad. It doesn't seem like that big of a deal but it means so much to me and really goes to support that the little things really make a big difference."
Sept. 24: PLU vs. Willamette in Salem, Oregon (12 PM)
Series History: It's been a tossup over the years when the Lutes and Bearcats meet on the pitch with Willamette owning a slim 35-34-5 edge in the all-time series. The Lutes are on a roll in recent years, going 7-2-1 over the last 10 years including a series sweep last season.
About the Bearcats: Willamette (4-1-1, 1-1 NWC) has gotten off to a strong start, having dropped just one game all season. The Bearcats held an early lead in the conference opener against Whitworth University but was unable to hang on, falling 2-1. The Bearcats rebounded the following day, netting a 3-1 victory over host Whitman College.
has gotten off to a strong start in 2017, going 4-1-1. The opened conference with a 2-1 loss against Whitworth and a 3-1 win over Whitman. Lacey Jones and Emmy Manset each have two goals for the Bearcats this season to lead the team. In goal, Kristin Barclay has spent 442 minutes between the posts, making 23 saves with a 1.02 goals against average.