SFU Nabs Fourth Straight Title, Earns Team of the Week
The men's soccer team at Simon Fraser features one of the most diverse rosters in the NCAA, and one of the best performing rosters on the field as the Clan is ranked No. 3 in Division II.
The men's soccer team at Simon Fraser features one of the most diverse rosters in the NCAA, and one of the best performing rosters on the field as the Clan is ranked No. 3 in Division II.

Monday, November 4, 2013

PORTLAND, Ore. – Since joining the Great Northwest Athletic Conference in 2010, the men’s soccer team at Simon Fraser University has excelled against conference and non-conference competition alike. The Clan made it to the NCAA Division II Final Four a season ago, and has never lost to the same GNAC opponent twice in one season.

With a defeat at the hands of Seattle Pacific earlier in 2013, SFU put that streak on the line Saturday, emerging victorious in a dramatic 1-0 double-overtime thriller that earned the Clan its fourth consecutive GNAC title as well as Team of the Week honors.

“We had a really good battle against SPU on Saturday,” SFU head coach Alan Koch commented. “It is always a great rivalry against them and we have a lot of respect for each others’ programs.”

Seattle Pacific kicked off its October slate of games by handing then-No. 1 SFU its first loss of the season, a 2-1 result on a Falcon goal in the 79th minute.

The defeat proved to be a significant setback for the Clan, as SPU would go undefeated in October and was within one point of SFU entering Saturday’s match.

“We speak to the guys about being able to control their own destiny by winning,” Koch said. “We wanted to win on Saturday and the guys went in and did the job.”

The victory over SPU was not easily earned, as it took more than 90 minutes to determine a winner. A loose ball played into the box in the 105th minute found its way to the foot of Jovan Blagojevic amongst a cluster of SPU and SFU players. The junior midfielder tapped the ball into the net, setting off an on-field celebration as the Clan officially clinched the GNAC title. 

“It was great to win the conference on our home soil,” Koch commented on hosting the decisive match at Terry Fox Field in Burnaby, BC. “You could really feel the momentum growing over the last few weeks and the new players have integrated well.”

Entering last week’s games, SFU was on fire with three-straight 7-0 victories. The Clan ran into a tough Saint Martin’s team on Thursday, capitalizing on a goal from Ryan Dhillon in the 69th minute that proved to be the deciding factor.

“It was a narrow game in the end, but we had quite a few chances earlier on in the match that we didn’t finish,” Koch commented on the 1-0 victory. “Give credit to SMU for making things difficult for us.” 

With Simon Fraser standing as the lone member of the NCAA located outside of the United States, it is fitting that it boasts the most international roster in the conference. The Clan has players from seven different nations, including five different European countries.

Alexander Kleefeldt and Chris Bargholz hail from Germany, Magnus Kristensen is a native of Norway, Robert Hyams is from the United Kingdom while the Swedish Johannes Hallman, and the Swiss Marco Voegeli are also valuable assets on Koch’s roster. Glenn Paden, a native of Lake Forest Park, Wash., is the lone Clan player from the United States, as the rest of the team is made up of Canadians. 

“It has taken time but we feel our team has begun to gel, come together and really understand the philosophy we have in place within the program,” Koch commented on his diverse squad.

In addition to preparing his international players for the North American soccer culture, the sheer quantity of newcomers this season presented another challenge within itself. “It was a tough year and we had to integrate so many new players,” said Koch regarding the loss of 12 seniors from last season’s Division II semifinalist team. “It takes time to adjust when you lose as many great seniors as we did.” 

While the Clan has had its barriers, the victories last week to clinch the GNAC title all-but guaranteed a berth into the NCAA West Region playoffs later this month. 

“We are excited about the playoffs, but we still need to play Western Washington on Saturday and close out the season strong,” Koch said regarding the final game on SFU’s 2013 regular season schedule. “We take our schedule one game at a time, and once Saturday is over, we will start thinking about the postseason.”