Top-25 Matchup & Road Trips Await Women’s Soccer Teams
Western Oregon was one of four GNAC teams to emerge from the first week of regular season play undefeated. The Wolves were also the only team in the conference to open the season 2-0.
Western Oregon was one of four GNAC teams to emerge from the first week of regular season play undefeated. The Wolves were also the only team in the conference to open the season 2-0.

Thursday, September 7, 2023
by Thomas Lal

PORTLAND, Ore. –The second week of the regular season sees half of the GNAC’s women’s soccer programs enter undefeated after a packed first week on the pitch.

Western Oregon was the lone team to bag a pair of wins in the first week, notching wins over Stanislaus State and Colorado Christian. The Wolves made a statement in their first victory of the season, defeating the Warriors 2-1 at home. The result comes after Stanislaus State was named the favorite to win the CCAA title by coaches in the preseason. Western Oregon’s three goals in two games ranks second in the GNAC behind only Seattle Pacific’s six tallies.

Saint Martin’s, Simon Fraser and Northwest Nazarene also remain undefeated heading into the second week of the regular season. All three teams earned one draw last week with the Nighthawks also drawing even, 0-0, with No. 14 Hawaii Hilo on Tuesday.

This week sees a healthy split of home and away games on the docket. Seattle Pacific, Central Washington and Western Oregon all head to California with the Wolves taking a detour to face UC Colorado Springs on Thursday. Montana State Billings will make its regular-season debut with a pair of matches at home while the reigning GNAC champion Western Washington will make its home opener in Bellingham on Saturday.

Northwest Nazarene is the lone team to play an exhibition this week against Pacific (Ore.). Meanwhile, Saint Martin’s will face Evergreen on Sunday at a neutral site in Olympia, Wash. due to field maintenance in Lacey. Simon Fraser is the lone team to not play this week and will return to action on Sept. 21 for conference play against Western Washington.

This Week's Storylines

No. 1 Western Washington (1-1-0) will host No. 22 Cal State LA (1-0-1) on Saturday in its 2023 home opener. The Vikings have historically been very successful playing in Bellingham and boast a 79-5-5 all-time record at Harrington Field. They come into this season after a 2022 campaign where they lost just one match on home soil. Western Washington will look to return to its winning ways against nationally ranked competition after junior midfielder Gracen Crosby led the way last week with a goal and an assist.

GOLDEN GATE STATE OF MIND: Central Washington (0-2-0) and Seattle Pacific (1-1-0) both head to the Bay Area this week to face San Francisco State and Chico State. The Falcons will start their week taking on the Gators in San Francisco on Thursday before making the trip north to play Chico State on Saturday. Central Washington will make the same trip in reverse, playing a battle of the Wildcats on Thursday before taking on SFU on Saturday.

Seattle Pacific leads the GNAC with six goals and 16 points after just two matches. The Falcons are led by senior forward Jacqueline Blakeley who is tied for first in the conference with four points courtesy of two goals. Fellow senior forward Sophie Beadle also leads the GNAC with two assists.

ROAD WOLVES: Undefeated Western Oregon (2-0-0) will hit the road for the first time this week with matches against UC Colorado Springs (0-1-1) on Thursday and Cal Poly Humboldt (2-0-0) on Saturday. The Wolves put together a pair of strong performances to open the season after being predicted to finish fourth in the conference. Senior forward Chloe Smith was a force to be reckoned with last week, netting a brace in WOU’s 2-1 win over Colorado Christian last Sunday. Smith’s game-winning goal was an absolute rocket from outside of the box after she intercepted an errant pass.

Junior goalkeeper Sophia Pierce will aim to maintain her stellar form in net for Western Oregon after starting the season with a perfect 1.000 save percentage. Pierce started both of WOU’s matches last week, turning the net over to teammate Darien Walton in the second half of Sunday’s win. The netminders will have to be on their toes in Arcata, Calif. after the Lumberjacks scored five goals in two matches last week.

STINGERS UP: Montana State Billings will make its regular-season debut hosting matches against Minot State (1-0-0) on Thursday and Carroll College (2-0-0) on Saturday. The Yellowjackets come into the season picked to finish eighth in the GNAC but will look to surpass expectations under first-year head coach Abiye Jack. A two-year veteran of the program as an assistant coach, Jack returns one of the top goalkeepers in the conference in senior Clare Keenan. Leading the offense is junior forward Jackie Sharpe after posting two goals and two assists last season.

SAINTS ALIVE: Saint Martin’s (1-0-1) enters the week as one of four undefeated teams in the GNAC and will look to maintain that standing as it faces Evergreen State (0-2-0) on Sunday. The Saints have not conceded a goal this season, taking a 1-0 win over Colorado Christian and earning a 0-0 draw against Stanislaus State. The goaltending tandem of junior Flavia Burrell and senior Ali Campigotto has been a key part of that. The two netminders have combined for four saves while leading the backline.

EXHIBIT NAMPA: After opening the regular season 1-0-2, Northwest Nazarene will play one last exhibition match this week against Division III Pacific University on Saturday. Like the Saints, the Nighthawks will look to maintain their stellar defensive record after not allowing a goal thus far. The shutout performances included a strong effort by the defense against nationally-ranked Hawaii Hilo in a 0-0 draw on Tuesday. Junior goalkeeper Bailey Blancett has been exceptional in net for NNU and ranks first in Division II with three clean sheets.  

Player to Watch


Emma Higashi - Western Oregon

A true freshman from Mililani, Hawaii, Emma Higashi proved to be a difference-maker in the first match of her college career. Higashi scored the lone goal in Western Oregon’s season-opening 1-0 win over Stanislaus State last Friday. After a scoreless first half, she came through early in the second frame after receiving the ball from a dangerous turnover at the top of the Warriors’ box, catching the goalkeeper way off her line.

Higashi already looks to have established herself in an early starting role for the Wolves, getting the nod in both games last week on the way to Western Oregon going 2-0-0 to start the year. Along with her goal, she has put all three of her shots this season on goal. Just 96 minutes into her GNAC career, Higashi is already certainly a player that fans and opposition alike will have to keep an eye on.


National Rankings

The first United Soccer Coaches Division II rankings of the season came out on Sept. 5 with Western Washington (1-1-0) remaining at the top of the poll despite dropping a match last week. Meanwhile, Northwest Nazarene (1-0-2) and Seattle Pacific (1-1-0) both slipped out of the receiving votes category.

Poll Team 1 Team 2 Team 3
Preseason 1. WWU RV NNU RV SPU
Sept. 5 1. WWU NR NR
GNAC Women's Soccer In The NCAA Statistical National Rankings

Through games on Sept. 6.

Team Rankings (Top-30)

Assists Per Game: 26. SPU, 2.00
Goals Against Average: 1. NNU, 0.000; 1. SMU, 0.000; 1. SFU, 0.000
Penalty Kicks: 1. WOU, 1.000; 1. WWU, 1.000
Points Per Game: 26. SPU, 8.00
Save Percentage: 1. NNU, 1.000; 1. SMU, 1.000; 1. SFU, 1.000
Scoring Offense: 23. SPU, 3.00
Shutout Percentage: 1. NNU, 1.000; 1. SMU, 1.000; 1. SFU, 1.000
Assists: 26. SPU, 4
Goals: 23. SPU, 6
Points: 24. SPU, 16
Won-Lost-Tied Percentage: 1. WOU, 1.000

Individual Rankings (Top-30)

Assists Per Game: 11. Sophie Beadle, SPU, 1.00
Game Winning Goals: 10. Seven Players Tied, 1
Goalie Minutes Played: 2, Bailey Blancett, NNU, 270:00; 8. Sarah Loewen, SFU, 180:00; 8. Landry Schoennauer, SPU, 180:00; 8. Abigail Trengove, WWU, 180:00
Goals Against Average: 1. Five Players Tied, 0.000
Goals Per Game: 30. Jacqueline Blakeley, SPU, 1.00; 30. Chloe Smith, WOU, 1.00
Penalty Kicks: 1. Gracen Crosby, WWU, 1.000; 1. Chloe Smith, WOU, 1.000
Save Percentage: 1. Five Players Tied, 1.000
Shutouts: 1. Bailey Blancett, NNU, 3; 2. Sarah Loewen, SFU, 2; 16. Four Players Tied, 16
Assists: 11. Sophie Beadle, SPU, 2
Goals: 24. Jacqueline Blakeley, SPU, 2; 24. Chloe Smith, WOU, 2
Saves: 29. Landry Schoennauer, SPU, 11


2023 GNAC Women's Soccer Players of the Week
Date Offensive Player of the Week Defensive Player of the Week
Sept. 5 Chloe Smith, Western Oregon Sarah Loewen, Simon Fraser

Sept. 5 GNAC Women's Soccer Players of the Week

Offensive: Chloe Smith, Western Oregon

Smith scored a pair of important goals in the span of 70 seconds on Sunday, helping the Wolves start their season with two victories. After converting a penalty kick to give WOU a 1-0 lead over Colorado Christian in the 16th minute, Smith followed with an extraordinary finish that proved to be the game-winner in the 17th minute. Winning the ball off a defender well outside the 18-yard box, Smith blasted an unstoppable shot into the upper-left corner of the net to spot her team a 2-0 advantage. The breakout offensive performance came on the heels of 78 strong minutes in WOU’s 1-0 shutout win over Stanislaus State on Friday.

Also Nominated: Paige Savage, CWU; Madison Grande, NNU; Kaeli Ploettner, SMU; Jacqueline Blakeley, SPU; Kate Cartier, SFU.


Defensive: Sarah Loewen, Simon Fraser

Loewen distinguished herself among this week’s nominees by saving not one but two penalty kicks in the Red Leafs’ season-opening 0-0 draw at Cal State East Bay. Her first heroic moment came in the 33rd minute when she stopped a penalty kick and a follow-up strike to keep the match scoreless. SFU called upon its last line of defense again in the 81st minute, and Loewen denied another strike from 12 yards out to help secure the shutout. After her three-save performance in the season opener, Loewen made the only save required of her in SFU’s 1-0 triumph over Dominican as she completed back-to-back clean sheets.

Also Nominated: Makayla Roggow, NNU; Flavia Burrell, SMU; Landry Schoennauer, SPU; Sophia Pierce, WOU; Jayden Nguyen, WWU.

2023 GNAC Women's Soccer Championships

The 2023 GNAC Women's Soccer Championships will be held Nov. 9-11 at Tomlinson Stadium on the campus of Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Wash. The top four teams in the final GNAC regular-season standings will advance to the single-elimination tournament.