SPU Named Team of Week After Beating No. 1 SFU
SPU defeated top-ranked Simon Fraser last week and has not lost since it's first match of the season, an eight-game unbeaten stretch.
SPU defeated top-ranked Simon Fraser last week and has not lost since it's first match of the season, an eight-game unbeaten stretch.

Monday, October 7, 2013

PORTLAND, Ore. – Even at home, the task of taking down the No. 1 team in the NCAA is daunting. On Thursday, the Seattle Pacific men’s soccer team proved it was up to the challenge as the Falcons dealt Simon Fraser its first loss of 2013 in a 2-1 triumph in Seattle.

“We knew Simon Fraser was going to be good and they have had our number for the past couple of seasons,” SPU head coach Mark Collings commented. “They were the best team we have played up to this point and I felt like we matched up well with them.”

SPU set the tone early, as Davis Karaica (M, 6-1, Fr., Snoqualmie, WA – Mount Si) slotted home the first goal of the game in the 12th minute to give the Falcons a 1-0 edge.

The Clan, which has already won three games in dramatic come-from-behind fashion this season, evened the score 11 minutes later.

The teams remained deadlocked at 1-1 until the 79th minute, when Danny Olivas (M, 6-1, So., Phoenix, AZ – O’Connor) found the back of the net from 17 yards out.

“Our initial reaction when Danny scored was to think about how to hold onto the lead,” said Collings regarding the late difference maker. “We just tried to figure out where they were causing us problems and how we could patch up those areas for the final 10 minutes.”

SPU held its ground through the final buzzer, preventing SFU from attempting a shot the rest of the way.

“Our approach was to stick to what we’ve been doing and see if we could dictate the play and use our style rather than submit to following theirs,” Collings responded when asked how his team prepared for the match. “It really went both ways and there were periods where each team had a better run of play,” Collings said, adding, “our goalkeeper made a couple really big saves.”

On Saturday, SPU fell behind to Western Washington on a goal in the 24th minute. The Vikings took the 1-0 advantage into halftime, but SPU came out of the break ready to go as Bryson Pavel (D, 6-0, So., Boise, ID – Boise) evened the score in the first minute of the second half. More than an hour later the teams had battled through two overtime periods to no avail, as the game ended in a 1-1 draw.

The tie pushed SPU’s unbeaten streak to eight games, as the Falcons haven’t lost since their first match of the season against Chico State.

The Falcons are still one point behind SFU in the GNAC standings, but the win on Thursday proved that SPU has what it takes to compete with top teams across Division II.

“It definitely felt great for our program to beat a team of that quality,” said Collings regarding his team’s response to the victory over SFU. “It really helped our team believe in what we are doing.” 

SPU hosts Saint Martin’s this Saturday before hitting the road to take on Northwest Nazarene and Montana State Billings the following weekend.

“Saint Martin’s is probably the surprise team of the conference thus far, and they are always well organized and have players that can hurt us,” said Collings looking ahead to SPU’s next match.

While the victory over Simon Fraser highlighted a successful start to the 2013 season, Collings recognized that there is still a long way to go to get to the post season.

“We emphasized that this is just one game against a top team, and we still have to play them again later in the season,” Collings said. “We’re definitely excited for the second half and are hoping we can get even better.”

“Ultimately the goal is to get to the post season and do what you can in a bunch of one-game playoffs,” Collings said regarding his team’s potential to reach the playoffs. “So far, we are very pleased with the progression of our team both as a unit and as individuals since the beginning of the season.”