UAA Women's XC, SPU Women's Soccer Share Team of Week
Susan Tanui (12) and Joyce Kipchumba (8) (left) finished one-two respectively in the Division II West Regional XC meet, while SPU's women's soccer team (left) won the GNAC Championships.
Susan Tanui (12) and Joyce Kipchumba (8) (left) finished one-two respectively in the Division II West Regional XC meet, while SPU's women's soccer team (left) won the GNAC Championships.

Monday, November 11, 2013

PORTLAND, Ore. – “They can’t beat us three times in one season,” Seattle Pacific women’s soccer head coach Chuck Sekyra replied when asked what his team’s mindset was going into Thursday’s Great Northwest Athletic Conference women’s soccer semifinal match against Central Washington.

Those very sentiments were echoed by freshman forward Hannah Huesers in a post-game interview on Saturday, after the Falcons won a penalty kick shootout over Western Washington to claim the 2013 GNAC women’s soccer title Saturday afternoon.

The remarks fittingly summed up SPU’s championship run as the Falcons beat a pair of teams that it was a combined 0-4 against in the regular season.

Earlier Saturday morning, Susan Tanui and Joyce Kipchumba of Alaska Anchorage crossed the finish line in first and second place at the 2013 NCAA Division II cross country West Regional Meet in Spokane, Wash.

The outstanding performances, coming within hours of each other, earned SPU women’s soccer and UAA women’s cross country GNAC Co-Team of the Week honors.

It took a comeback win from SPU on Thursday to get past Central Washington, as the Wildcats scored early in the first half to take a 1-0 lead.

“We felt like if we kept playing our game and believing in what we were doing that we could put some balls in against them,” said Sekyra regarding a second-half penalty kick and own goal that pushed the Falcons through to the finals.

On Saturday, SPU set out to take on the No. 10 team in the NCAA in WWU, which had beaten the Falcons 2-1 in both of the teams’ prior meetings this season. A scoreless match unfolded through the first 87 minutes, until Huesers drilled a shot off of a Viking defender and into the net to make the score 1-0.

“I thought we had the game for sure after Hannah’s goal,” SPU goalkeeper Natalie Harold commented after making seven saves up to that point in the match.

As it turned out, Harold would be called upon to make perhaps her two biggest saves of the season later on in the match.

A corner kick with 10 seconds remaining somehow found the foot of WWU forward Catherine Miles inside a jam-packed box, and she pushed across the game-tying goal.

“It was unfortunate but we felt like we would get justice later in the match,” Sekyra commented on the last-second goal. “I believed that my team would continue to play well.” 

The teams battled through overtime to no avail, and although the match was officially declared a draw, a penalty kick shootout would decide the tournament champion. Harold made a huge statement when it counted most, stopping the first two penalty kicks from WWU. SPU converted all four of its attempts, capped off by Arden Matro’s game-winner which sparked a full-team celebration on the field.

“Natalie was awesome, and it wasn’t surprising,” Sekyra said regarding the shootout. “You always want to go first in PKs, and it really helped that Heather Young made our first shot. It felt like the win was meant to be in some ways.”

Alaska Anchorage also had reason to celebrate on Saturday, as Ivy O’Guinn and Susan Bick joined Tanui and Kipchumba within the top-20 to push the Seawolves to the women’s team title at the Division II West Regionals.

“Susan and Joyce going one-two for us was pretty key, and Bryn Haebe passed several runners within the last half-kilometer which helped us squeak out some points,” head coach Michael Friess commented on the race.

The team title is UAA’s fourth in the last five years at the regional level, and the GNAC boasted four of the top-five finishers and seven of the top-10.

“It’s definitely rewarding and you always want to perform well against quality competition,” Friess said regarding running in one of the best conferences across Division II. “The conference reputation is evident and it makes the success we have had even more gratifying, as the other schools obviously value the sport and are very well coached.”

The next step for UAA is the Division II National Meet, scheduled for Nov. 22 at Plantes Ferry Course in Spokane, the same course that held the regional meet.

“It feels comfortable because we know where to go and we have our routine down on everything from where the hotel is to where we eat dinner,” said Friess on the familiarity his team has with the course and Spokane. “All of those things make the travel much less complicated, and the more well-known these things are to the team makes it seem more like home.”

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