Undefeated October Earns SPU's Collings Coach of the Month
Seattle Pacific head coach Mark Collings (left) has his team just one point out of first place in the GNAC standings, as the Falcons have not lost since their first match of 2013.
Seattle Pacific head coach Mark Collings (left) has his team just one point out of first place in the GNAC standings, as the Falcons have not lost since their first match of 2013.

Friday, November 1, 2013

PORTLAND, Ore. – For a two-minute period on Thursday night, the Seattle Pacific men’s soccer team moved into first place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference standings.

SPU defeated Western Washington 1-0 to collect three points, and with Simon Fraser’s game still underway, the Falcons temporarily leapfrogged the season-long conference leader. SFU held on for a 1-0 win over Saint Martin’s to push SPU back into second place minutes later, but the momentary taste of first place summed up SPU’s season to a tee.

It has been almost two months since SPU has lost a game, dating back to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Chico State in its first game of the 2013 season. The Falcons are in second place in the GNAC standings behind No. 3 Simon Fraser by just one point, and SPU’s undefeated October has earned head coach Mark Collings GNAC Coach of the Month honors.

“We have a great group of guys that really believes in what we are doing at SPU,” said Collings, who is in his sixth season at the head of the Falcons’ men’s program. “We have guys that really care about each other and that extends onto the field and builds great team chemistry.” 

SPU started the month with its strongest statement of the season, beating then-No.1 ranked Simon Fraser 2-1 at home on Oct. 3. The victory set the tone for the Falcons’ next seven games in which they outscored opponents 12-3 and went 5-0-2. 

“Going into the game we felt like it was an opportunity to be validated as a team and show we can play with the top teams in the NCAA,” Collings said regarding the victory over SFU. “We know it was just one game and we kept ourselves in check, but at the same time it definitely gave us some confidence.” 

Over the eight-game unbeaten stretch in October, SPU relied heavily on its defense and five shutouts from freshman goalkeeper Cody Lang. “Cody has risen to every challenge and has come up with some very timely saves for us,” said Collings regarding Lang’s performance. “I have to give a ton of credit to the other coaches, especially Dan Pingrey who has worked with Cody all year and helped him stay mentally sharp,” Collings commented regarding his assistant coach.

Lang is not the only freshman to have an impact this season for SPU, as freshman forward Stephen MacDonald leads the team in total goals (4), three of which have been game-winners.

Offensively, SPU spread its scoring evenly throughout the squad in October as nine different Falcons scored in the month. Five different players scored twice in October, Jordan Kollars led the team in assists with four, and Danny Olivas added two assists to his pair of goals to give him the team-high in points with six. 

“The best thing about our team is that we have so many players who can contribute daily,” Collings remarked about his squad’s versatility. “We have 12 different goal scorers, which says we have a lot of guys who have stepped up so far this season.”

The Falcons also have solid senior leadership, with Kodiac Gamble and Anthony Mohammed having started all 15 games thus far in 2013.

“Anthony has probably been our best player overall because of his leadership and ability to win balls in the midfield,” Collings commented regarding one of his three seniors. “All of our seniors have done a really good job of teaching our younger guys what it takes to compete and win games at this level.”

With no automatic bids to the postseason, Seattle Pacific must rely on being ranked in the top-six in the NCAA West regional poll at season’s end. Currently, the Falcons are ranked No. 5 in the region, and wins in their final two games would all but guarantee a trip to the NCAA postseason.

Standing in SPU’s way however is a Simon Fraser team that has won four straight contests and is motivated to pay back the only team that it has lost to this season. 

“It is certainly a big game coming up and we know they are going to be ready,” Collings said regarding the rematch set for Saturday in Burnaby, BC. “We definitely feel ready and are putting together a game plan to hopefully come up with another good result.”

If SPU can beat SFU on the road on Saturday, it will increase the Falcons’ unbeaten streak to 15, push their winning streak to five, and make them the first-ever GNAC team to sweep a season series against the Clan.

More importantly however, it would push SPU into secure possession of first place in the GNAC standings, and reward the Falcons for one of the best seasons in program history.