Falcons Footy Locks Down Championship, Team Of The Week
Members of the SPU women's soccer team rush the field after the final whistle of their 4-0 GNAC Championships final victory.
Members of the SPU women's soccer team rush the field after the final whistle of their 4-0 GNAC Championships final victory.

Monday, November 15, 2021

After rolling to the regular season title and winning the GNAC Championships with a dominant 4-0 victory in the championship match, the Seattle Pacific women’s soccer team can add GNAC Team of the Week to their list of accomplishments.

Entering last weekend’s GNAC Championships in Bellingham, Wash. as the No. 1 seed, the Falcons got past No. 4 seed Simon Fraser 2-1 in the semifinals before dismantling Western Washington 4-0 on the Vikings’ home field, winning their first GNAC Championships since 2014.

“Our girls were phenomenal today,” head coach Arby Busey said. “It’s a blessing to be in charge of this program and have at my disposal what we saw today, because they were really, really good.”

Against Simon Fraser, SPU scored two goals in a five-minute span. In the 28th minute, senior forward Sophia Chilczuk evaded three defenders in the corner before whipping in a cross to the near post that found junior midfielder Chloe Gellhaus, who flicked a header into the top left corner past a diving goalkeeper.

Five minutes later, Seattle Pacific found the net again. Again, it was Chilczuk who took the ball down the right flank and sent in a low cross. Senior midfielder Claire Neder and a Simon Fraser defender simultaneously hit the ball from five yards out and SFU goalie Nicole Anderson had no chance from point-blank range.

The semifinal win set up a rematch in the final with Western Washington, a program that had won four of the past five GNAC Championships and has never failed to make it to the championship match. But what was expected to be a nail-biting battle quickly turned into a rout.

The Falcons found the net right after the opening kickoff. Vikings defender Karina Provo tried to head the ball back to goalkeeper Natalie Dierickx, but mishit it, giving sophomore forward Sophie Beadle a one-on-one breakaway. Beadle made no mistake, slotting the ball into the lower right corner just 1 minute, 32 seconds into the match, and the Falcons were off and running.

They doubled their lead in the 24th minute when Beadle crossed from the right side and GNAC Player of the Year Makena Rietz got on the end of it with a thumping volley from three yards out. The Vikings did not manage a single shot attempt in the first half. The Falcons had 11 shots in the first half, with four shots on goal.

The Falcons scored again in the 50th minute, once more picking on the left side of the Vikings’ defense. Chilczuk turned around a defender near the end line and sent a left-footed cross that was deflected up in the air by a WWU defender. At the top of the 18-yard box, Gellhaus took a touch to her right and struck a laser across her body that flew into the top right corner.

Seattle Pacific put the capper on three minutes later. Chilczuk again found herself free on a right hand side counter-attack and sent a searching low cross into the penalty area. A Vikings defender stuck a foot out to stop the ball, but ended up setting the table for an onrushing Rietz to slot the loose ball into an open net that Dierickx had vacated chasing the anticipated cross.

Aside from putting a stamp on the result, that goal was statistically significant for two reasons. It allowed Rietz to tie WWU’s Jenna Killman for the conference lead in goals with 12 after Killman took the lead with her hat trick in Thursday’s semifinal against Northwest Nazarene. It was also Chilczuk’s 17th assist of the season, breaking the single-season conference record of 16 set by SPU’s Meredith Teague in the 2007 campaign. Chilczuk was named tournament MVP for her four assists.

“The vision and the technique that she’s showed this year in setting up her teammates has been unbelievable,” Busey said.

The win completes the regular-season and conference Championships double for Seattle Pacific, who has competed in every GNAC Championships since 2012 but hadn’t won it since 2014. The Falcons will find out their pathway through the NCAA Tournament with the NCAA selection show at 3 p.m. (PT) on Monday, Nov. 15.