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Helleren, Yilmaz Stars Of Men's Soccer First Week
Seattle Pacific goalkeeper Lars Helleren's 16 saves after two matches place him among the national leaders in the category.
Seattle Pacific goalkeeper Lars Helleren's 16 saves after two matches place him among the national leaders in the category.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

THIS WEEK'S GNAC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

OFFENSE
Halil Yilmaz, Montana State Billings
F • 6-0 • Junior • Wiesbaden, Germany
Yilmaz scored a hat trick in his MSUB debut, netting all three goals in a 3-2 overtime win against Texas A&M International. He converted a penalty in the first half, doubled his tally in the 63rd minute and scored the golden goal with 10 seconds left in the first overtime period.

Also Nominated: Jake Levine (NNU), Jason Fairhurst (SMU), Alex Mejia (SPU)

DEFENSE
Lars Helleren, Seattle Pacific
GK • 6-2 • Senior • Edmonds, Wash.
Helleren collected 16 saves and did not allow a goal from open play during SPU’s pair of season-opening road victories. He amassed nine saves in a 2-1 victory at Sonoma State, only allowing a goal on a penalty kick, and stopped all seven shots in a 1-0 overtime win against Chico State for his third career clean sheet.

Also Nominated: Georgios Theodoulidis (MSUB), Lorenzo Valentini (NNU)

AROUND THE GNAC

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS
• Montana State Billings played three matches in four days, emerging with a 1-1-1 record.
• The opening match on Thursday was all about Halil Yilmaz. The junior forward scored a hat trick, capped with an overtime winner, to single-handedly beat Texas A&M International 3-2 in the first game of the season. It was MSUB’s first hat trick since 2018. Yilmaz leads the conference in both goals and points and brought home the GNAC Offensive Player of the Week Award.
• The Yellowjackets were unable to add to the win column after that, falling 1-0 to CSU Pueblo on Saturday and finishing in a scoreless tie with UC Colorado Springs on Sunday.
• Georgios Theodoulidis had a strong opening week in goal, playing all 300 minutes and totaling 11 saves, seven of which came in the 0-0 draw.
• Montana State Billings will play two neutral-site matches in Nampa, Idaho this week, taking on No. 16 Colorado Mesa on Thursday and Westminster (Utah) on Saturday.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE
• Northwest Nazarene opened the year with a strong 3-1 victory vs. San Francisco State last Thursday before falling 4-0 to Humboldt State last Saturday.
• Referees have been able to hold their whistles when the NIghthawks play so far this season, as NNU ranks bottom of the conference in offsides and fouls committed.
• Senior Jake Levine assisted on the first goal vs. San Francisco State before scoring the second.
• The Nighthawks have two home matches this week, battling Westminster (Utah) on Thursday and No. 16 Colorado Mesa on Saturday.

SAINT MARTIN’S
• Saint Martin’s had an 0-2 week, dropping a narrow 2-1 contest to No. 4 Colorado Mines on Friday before enduring a 5-0 loss to Regis on Sunday.
• Jason Fairhurst found the net for the Saints against Mines. The senior forward scored five goals in 2019 and two goals in the shortened 2020 season.   
• The Saints come home to Lacey for their two matches this week, facing Chico State on Thursday and Sonoma State on Saturday. Both of those two schools have beaten Western Washington and lost to Seattle Pacific so far this year.

SEATTLE PACIFIC
• Seattle Pacific is the only undefeated GNAC team after the first week, recording a 2-1 win over Sonoma State and topping Chico State 1-0 in overtime.
• Perhaps no GNAC player has had a hotter start to the season than GNAC Defensive Player of the Week Lars Helleren. The senior goalkeeper made 16 saves across two matches, only allowing one goal on a penalty kick. Helleren has conceded the fewest goals of any GNAC goalie despite facing the most shots on target.
• The Falcons received a goal-scoring boost from senior forward Alex Mejia, who bagged both goals in the win against Sonoma State. Fellow senior forward Titus Grant, who led the team with nine goals in 2019, opened his account with the overtime winner against Chico State.
• SPU has jumped all the way to No. 14 in the Sept. 7 United Soccer Coaches poll after starting the season unranked.
• Seattle Pacific is off this week. The Falcons will play next Sept. 16 at home vs. Regis.

SIMON FRASER
• Simon Fraser played plenty of extra soccer this week, with both of their matches going to overtime. The team lost their Thursday opener to No. 7 Azusa Pacific 1-0, before topping Cal State LA in double overtime 2-1 on Sunday.
• Simon Fraser was trailing for most of the match against Cal State LA, but they equalized through junior forward Conrad Cheng in the 81st minute before junior forward Tyler Dhillion headed in a cross from sophomore midfielder Ali Zohar in the 105th minute to end it.
• Goalkeeper Aidan Bain’s 12 saves and 2 goals conceded are both second-best in the conference behind Lars Helleren.
• Simon Fraser has climbed to No. 18 in the Sept. 7 United Soccer Coaches Poll after starting the season unranked.
• Simon Fraser will head to Lacey for two neutral-site matches against Sonoma State on Thursday and Chico State on Saturday. Both of those two schools have beaten Western Washington and lost to Seattle Pacific so far this year.

WESTERN WASHINGTON
• Western Washington lost a pair of matches against CCAA foes this week, falling 1-0 to Chico State on Thursday and 2-0 to Sonoma State on Saturday.
• Senior forward Alex Whiting and senior midfielder Drew Farnsworth lead the team with 1.5 shots per game. Junior forward Gilbert de la Cruz has managed to put 100% of his shots on target so far in the young season.
• Junior goalkeeper Brandon Wolter has seemingly grabbed the starting job in goal, playing every minute of the two matches last week. Wolter appeared in two games last season, starting none, as the Vikings gave three keepers over 50 minutes in net in 2020 despite playing only five games.
• Western Washington is off this week. The Vikings will play next Sept. 16 at home vs. No. 4 Colorado Mines.

 

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