History For Hennessy Headlines GNAC POTW
MSUB forward Liberty Palmer (right) notched her first-career brace to earn offensive player of the week honors.
MSUB forward Liberty Palmer (right) notched her first-career brace to earn offensive player of the week honors.

Monday, October 23, 2023
by Evan O'Kelly

PORTLAND, Ore. – Only three men’s soccer players in Great Northwest Athletic Conference history have scored five goals in a single match, and Simon Fraser head coach Clint Schneider has been on the sideline on two of the occasions.

The most recent came on Thursday, when Red Leafs freshman Michael Hennessy found the net five times in SFU’s 7-1 rout of Saint Martin’s on his way to earning GNAC Men’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Week. It was the first time a GNAC player achieved the feat since Aug. 31, 2012 when former GNAC Player of the Year Carlo Basso – the current SFU women’s interim head coach – scored five times in a match against Thompson Rivers.

“It is very rare for those performances to happen, and it takes a combination of a person being really hot on the day as well as his teammates putting him in a position to score those goals,” said Schneider, who was an assistant coach for SFU a decade ago on Basso’s historic day. “It is a big time credit to Michael. He is a really special talent and we feel like this whole freshman class we have is special. It was a tremendous challenge for us to find good, local players after the pandemic, and it is nice to have that work pay off. To see someone like Michael grow in front of our eyes is very rewarding. He does a lot of work defensively that maybe goes unnoticed, and this is a credit to him and his teammates.”

Hennessy scored all five of his goals in the first 60 minutes of the match, but fell one short of the GNAC single-match record of six set by Western Washington’s Samir Vejo on Oct. 1, 2008 in a match against Colorado Christian.

While Hennessy’s effort stole the show on the men’s side, a breakout, two-win weekend by the Montana State Billings women’s team was led by offensive player of the week Liberty Palmer and defensive player of the week Tuva Sallvin. In just her third match back on the pitch after recovering from her second consecutive ACL injury, Palmer staked the Yellowjackets to a 2-0 lead in the first six minutes against Saint Martin’s last Thursday. The first goal proved to be the second game-winner of her career, and she upped her collegiate goals total to eight with her first-career brace.

Sallvin did the work in goal for the ‘Jackets, racking up seven total saves in MSUB’s 2-0 win over SMU and a 1-0 triumph over Western Oregon. The shutouts were the first of the year for Sallvin, and it elevated the Yellowjackets into the heart of the playoff picture into fifth place in the GNAC standings with 11 points.


Offensive Player of the Week – Liberty Palmer, Montana State Billings

First-career GNAC Player of the Week.

The 2021 GNAC Freshman of the Year suffered a devastating injury the final week of that season, before returning to the pitch in time for the 2022 campaign. Palmer had to endure another season-ending injury just five matches into last season, but has not missed a beat coming back for the second straight season. In addition to scoring both of MSUB’s goals against the Saints, Palmer was a constant threat in the box landing all four of her shot attempts on target. Last week marked the first time Palmer cracked the starting lineup in 2023.

“I am very happy for Liberty,” said MSUB head coach Abiye Jack. “She has worked extremely hard to get back on the field for a second time and it has been great to see her right away remind everyone of the type of player she is. She has come out with a lot of energy and showcased her skill and work rate. It is great to see her back on the field scoring goals again.”

Also Nominated: Peyton Vogel, CWU; Chloe Gellhaus, SPU; Kaiden Sherwood, SFU.

Defensive Player of the Week – Tuva Sallvin, Montana State Billings

First-career GNAC Player of the Week.

Sallvin doubled her shutout total from last year in a single weekend, twice keeping a clean sheet to move the Yellowjackets just one point out of a GNAC Championships berth. Sallvin started her week with three denials in the 2-0 win at Saint Martin’s on Thursday. She followed that with four saves against the Wolves on Saturday while facing 17 shots throughout the narrow 1-0 victory.

“Getting clean sheets has been a big focus for us, and we wanted to improve our defense,” Jack said. “Tuva has done a good job of communicating and keeping our back line organized. She reads the game well, understands how to distribute and she made some very timely 1-v-1 saves for us last week.”

Also Nominated: Danika Galbraith, CWU; Bailey Blancett, NNU; Ali Campigotto, SMU; Mercedes Cullen, SPU; Sarah Loewen, SFU; Asia Hardin, WWU.


Offensive Player of the Week – Michael Hennessy, Simon Fraser

First-career GNAC Player of the Week.

Hennessy could not be stopped last Thursday, scoring all five of his goals in a 40-minute span in the middle of the match. He put the Red Leafs ahead 1-0 in the 20th minute capitalizing on a defensive mistake, before perhaps his most notable finish of the afternoon in the 22nd minute. Receiving a pass from senior captain Devin O’Hea, Hennessy expertly touched a one-time effort off the post and into the net from a tight angle. He completed his hat trick six minutes after halftime and never looked back, adding goals in the 56th and 60th minutes for the top individual performance by a GNAC player thus far in 2023.

“Michael’s second goal was exceptional,” said Schneider. “It is really hard to hit a ball like that at that angle. He hit it very quickly and put it in a place where nobody could stop it. It was a tremendous goal.”

Also Nominated: Jim Wagenaar, NNU; Diego Andrade, SMU; Marco Millan, WOU.

Defensive Player of the Week – Juan Suarez, Western Oregon

First-career GNAC Player of the Week.

Suarez helped the Wolves keep pace with the Red Leafs in the GNAC standings, recording his fourth shutout of the season in WOU’s 1-0 triumph over Northwest Nazarene. Suarez totaled six saves – his fourth-highest single-game mark in 2023 – while going up against an NNU offense that averages 1.31 goals per game. Suarez enters this week leading the GNAC with 66 saves (5.50 per game) while holding a goals-against average of 1.42 and a save percentage of .795.

Also Nominated: Jeremi Campagnolo, MSUB; Sawyer Price, NNU; Justyn Sandhu, SFU.


Offensive Player of the Week – Karli Nielson, Alaska

First-career GNAC Player of the Week.

The Nanooks toppled perennial power Western Washington for the first time since the 2008 season, and elevated themselves into a tie for sixth place in the GNAC standings thanks in large part to Nielson. The preseason all-conference selection was a force on the attack, averaging 3.29 kills per set and 1.00 service aces per set. Nielson narrowly missed out on her third double-double of the year against Simon Fraser on Saturday, totaling 14 kills and nine digs to go along with four service aces. That came after a nine-kill, seven-dig performance in the sweep of the Vikings last Thursday. Nielson enters the week ranked sixth in the GNAC with 2.96 kills per set.

“Karli is always a statistical leader for us in kills and she does a great job scoring points for us,” said Alaska head coach Brian Scott. “That held true last weekend and she was able to come up big for us in key moments. She worked really hard to be a solid passer in serve-receive and that really allowed our offense to run. She’d be the first to tell you that you can’t be good without good teammates, and any award that comes out of our success is a reflection on the whole group.”

Also Nominated: Nicole Blue, UAA; Emma Daoud-Hebert, CWU; Miya Koch, NNU; Jennifer Soha, SMU; Brooke Dexter, SFU; Madison Hornback, WOU.

Defensive Player of the Week – Hannah Hair, Seattle Pacific

Seventh-career GNAC Player of the Week, second this season.

Hair bolstered her status as the preeminent blocker in Division II volleyball, upping her NCAA-leading blocks per set figure to 1.63 with perhaps her most dominant week of the year. Squaring off against No. 18 Central Washington on the road Thursday, Hair delivered a season-high 11 total blocks – including four solos – while adding seven kills in the five-set victory. She followed that with nine more blocks in the Falcons’ four-set win over Northwest Nazarene, as SPU kept a firm grip on first place in the GNAC standings.

“It was a big week for us, and Hannah had a really fun match against Central,” said SPU head coach Jason Rhine. “They threw out an offense they hadn’t run all season, so we had to work together to figure out how to defend it. Hannah and Allison (Wilks) did a great job of embracing that and adapting to it. Hannah threw up some really big blocks at the end of the match, on top of being consistent throughout. She does a great job of setting a competitive tone for our team and doing what it takes to win.”

Also Nominated: Isabel Evans, UAA; Kristina Head, UAF; Scottie Ellsworth, CWU; Caroline McMahon, NNU; Abbey Halstead, SMU; Macyn Unger, SFU.


Player of the Week – Denby Carswell, Simon Fraser

Second-career GNAC Player of the Week, second this season.

The Red Leaf freshman kept his strong fall going at the Cal State Monterey Bay Otter Invitational last week, tying for ninth place among a field of 74 competitors to lead his team. Carswell was the top performer in the GNAC last week, carding a three-round score of 1-under-par 215 (75-70-70) while finishing with back-to-back rounds under par. Carswell ranks third in the GNAC in scoring average at 71.9 strokes per round and has made par or better in five of his nine rounds played in his freshman season.

Also Nominated: Paul O’Neil, Montana State Billings.


Player of the Week – Madison Gridley, Northwest Nazarene

Second-career GNAC Player of the Week, first this season.

Gridley was the top-performing women’s player in the conference last week, placing fourth among a field of 45 players at the Vanguard Invitational in California. Gridley shot a two-round score of 8-over-par 152 (74-78), helping lead the Nighthawks to a third-place team finish. Gridley ranks fourth in the GNAC in scoring average this fall with a mark of 75.0 strokes per round.

Also Nominated: Orraya Tipasathien, Montana State Billings.