Women's Soccer: NCAA Berth Up For Grabs at Starfire
Western Washington is the No. 1 seed for the GNAC's soccer tournament which begins Thursday at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash.
Western Washington is the No. 1 seed for the GNAC's soccer tournament which begins Thursday at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

GNAC Championships (Nov. 1-3 at Starfire Sports Complex, Tukwila, WA): Thursday - #1 Western Washington vs. #4 Western Oregon, 5 p.m.; #2 Seattle Pacific vs. #3 Montana State Billings,  8 p.m. Saturday – Championship game at 2 p.m.

PORTLAND, Ore. - Western Washington is the top seed for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference women's soccer playoffs which begin Thursday at the Starfire Sports Complex at 14800 Starfire Way in Tukwila, Wash. (Note: Click on link for directions).

Tickets for the tournament are $9 for adults and $5 for students, children and seniors.

The winner of the tournament will earn an automatic berth in the 48-team NCAA West Regionals, which begin Thursday, Nov. 7.  Sites for the regional and pairings will be announced Monday at 4:30 p.m. (Pacific) via a web cast at www.ncaa.com.

The Vikings (15-3, 12-2) will play fourth-seed Western Oregon (8-9-1, 6-7-1) in Thursday's opening game at 5 p.m.  The nightcap will feature No. 2 seed and defending champion Seattle Pacific (14-2-2, 11-12) against third-seed Montana State Billings (12-5-1, 8-5-1) at 8 p.m.

Western Washington won the GNAC regular-season championship, but Seattle Pacific has won seven of the last nine conference titles and brings a No. 22 national rank and a 13-game unbeaten streak into the playoffs. 

Western Washington

The Vikings have proven to be one of the top defensive teams in the country, allowing just five goals in 18 regular-season contests.

GNAC Player of the Year Jamie Arthurs has had a remarkable season posting a GNAC-record 14 shutouts and leading the nation in goals against average (0.28).  Her GAA is on pace to break the GNAC single-season record of 0.30 set by Seattle Pacific’s Jennifer Hull in 2003.

On offense the top point producers for 10th-year coach Travis Connell (117-58-19) have included Catherine Miles (7 goals, 6 assists), Kristin Maris (7 goals, 4 assists), and Brina Sych (5 goals, 5 assists).

Seattle Pacific

Chuck Sekyra is in his 10th  season as head coach for the Falcons and has guided SPU to a remarkable record of 181-21-16 winning seven conference titles and advancing his team into the NCAA national tournament in each of the nine previous campaigns.  

Sekyra  led SPU to the 2008 national title and also advanced teams to the semifinals in 2005 and 2007.  This year he has his team ranked 22nd  in the national poll and brings a 13-game unbeaten streak (11 wins, two ties) into the playoffs.

Among the standout players for Seattle Pacific have been forward Megan Lindsay, who leads the GNAC with 26 points and ranks fifth in GNAC history with 101 career points, and defender Jose Graybeal, who has led a defense that has limited its opponents to 14 total goals.

Lindsay has 11 goals this season, including four game-winners. Other point producers for SPU have included Heather Young (5 goals, 4 assists) and Riley Dopps (4 goals, 3 assists).

Montana State Billings

Wojtek Krakowiak has guided the Yellowjackets to a 12-5-1 record in his second season as Montana State Billings head coach.

Top players for Krakowiak, who posted a 11-3-4 record last season, have included forward Heidi Greenback, midfielder Jaucelyn Richter and defender Jennifer Larsen.

Greenback leads the team in scoring with 17 points (8 goals, 1 assist), while Richter has 13 points (4 goals, 5 assists) increasing her career point total to 79 points.  Larsen has keyed a defense, which allowed just two goals over its first nine games, and has also contributed offensively, scoring three goals.

Western Oregon

Western Oregon had its best conference record in nearly a decade last fall posting a 5-6-3 mark under first-year coach Steve Ancheta. The Wolves matched that this season finishing with a 6-7-1 record to qualify for the GNAC’s first post-season tournament.

The Wolves, who take a 8-9-1 overall record into the tournament,  have been led by midfielders Lindsay Bauman and Kymberly Witmer, forward Marina Austin and goalkeeper Hillary Lutz. 

Bauman leads the team in scoring with 15 points (5 goals, 5 assists), while Austin has 10 points (5 goals) and Witmer has netted four goals. Lutz recorded four consecutive shutouts late in the season and takes a 1.10 goals against average into the tournament.