Lockdown Defense Leads Simon Fraser To Team of the Week
Freshman Justus Meier scored one of Simon Fraser's two goals this week. That was all the team needed to take home a pair of 1-0 wins.
Freshman Justus Meier scored one of Simon Fraser's two goals this week. That was all the team needed to take home a pair of 1-0 wins.

Monday, October 18, 2021

PORTLAND, Ore. – All season long, the formula for Simon Fraser men’s soccer has been to rely on their suffocating defense to limit the opponent’s chances while converting a set piece or build-up goal on the other end. They were able to follow the recipe perfectly this week on their way to two statement conference wins.

Simon Fraser got two shutouts from GNAC Defensive Player of the Week Aidan Bain, getting past Montana State Billings 1-0 on Thursday before utilizing a goal from Offensive Player of the Week Ali Zohar to knock off No. 7 Seattle Pacific, also by a 1-0 score. For the two shutout wins, including a victory over a Top-10 conference opponent, Simon Fraser men’s soccer was named the GNAC Team of the Week.

“Massive credit to the players who have had to deal with a tremendous amount of adversity this year,” head coach Clint Schneider said. “We played against two very good teams that are well coached, and it was nice to get those two big wins and put ourselves back in the hunt.”

In their opening match of the week, Simon Fraser had to reckon with the dangerous attack of Montana State Billings, which featured the conference’s second-leading scorer in Halil Yilmaz (nine goals). Simon Fraser took the lead just three-and-a-half minutes into the match when freshman midfielder Justus Meier rifled a shot from the top of the box for his first collegiate goal.

From that point on, Simon Fraser had a lead to protect, and Bain put on a signature performance. The senior goalkeeper made a season-high nine saves against the Yellowjackets, tied for the second-most in a single game by a GNAC player this season. Bain made five saves in the second half and two in the final ten minutes for his fourth shutout of the season.

Saturday’s match only posed a tougher challenge, with No. 7 Seattle Pacific bringing their undefeated GNAC record to SFU Stadium. Coming in, SPU was scoring 2.72 goals per match, while Falcons forward Alex Mejia was scoring over a goal per game on his own.

Once again, SFU got a relatively early goal. Nico Papakyriakopoulos sent a 21st-minute free kick into the box which Zohar flicked with his head perfectly into the top left corner. While Simon Fraser required Bain to make several stops against MSUB, the entire SFU defense put on a clinic against the Falcons to make sure the ball barely even got to Bain.

Seattle Pacific managed just seven shots, with only two going on target, and Simon Fraser held Mejia to one shot attempt. The match finished 1-0, snapping the Falcons’ seven-match winning streak and handing them their first conference loss of the season.

“We have a tremendous amount of expectations with the group, and one of them is to be a very difficult team to break down and get scored on,” Schneider said. “We have had to win games in a variety of different ways and we will always take the win over anything else.”

The two victories vaulted Simon Fraser back into the GNAC race. SFU sits at 3-2-0 along with two other teams, one game behind SPU at 4-1-0. The entire conference is idle this upcoming week, but Simon Fraser has two home matches next on the schedule, starting with Northwest Nazarene on Oct. 28.