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Mejia Continues Tear As Falcons Remain In Rankings
Alex Mejia scored a goal in each of Seattle Pacific's matches this week, bringing his season total to a GNAC-leading four.
Alex Mejia scored a goal in each of Seattle Pacific's matches this week, bringing his season total to a GNAC-leading four.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Seattle Pacific forward Alex Mejia scored twice this week to take the lead in the conference goal-scoring race and bring home the GNAC Offensive Player of the Week award. The senior’s offensive production is a big reason why SPU remains in the United Soccer Coaches Top 25 this week at No. 17.
It was a week of highs and lows for the Falcons. On Thursday, then-No. 11 SPU hosted then-No. 22 Regis at Interbay Stadium. The Falcons came away with a profile-boosting 2-0 win behind an opener from Titus Grant and a header from Mejia to ice it. On Saturday, they faced another tough opponent in Colorado Mines (receiving votes). Although Mejia and Alden Massey got SPU out to a 2-0 lead, Colorado Mines battled back to take the game in overtime, 3-2.
Elsewhere, Montana St. Billings recorded a dominant 5-2 win over South Dakota Mines behind a five-point night from Paul Cuevas. Northwest Nazarene had a 1-1 week on the back of GNAC Defensive Player of the Week Sawyer Price, who stopped 18 shots, including seven in a shutout win against Texas Permian Basin.
Looking ahead, Western Washington and Seattle Pacific each have three matches in Hawaii this week, while the rest of the conference does not play until the start of the GNAC season on Sept. 30.

GNAC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

OFFENSE
Alex Mejia, Seattle Pacific
F • 6-2 • Senior • Seattle, Wash.
Mejia continued his goal-per-match pace, scoring once in each of SPU’s two home contests. He found the net with a firm header against then-No.22 Regis before opening the scoring with a free kick goal against Colorado Mines. Mejia’s four goals this season lead the GNAC.  

Also Nominated: Paul Cuevas (MSUB), Jason Fairhurst (SMU), Drew Farnsworth (WWU)

DEFENSE
Sawyer Price, Northwest Nazarene
GK • 6-3 • Sophomore • Olympia, Wash.
Price was a wall in front of net during NNU’s 1-1 week, registering 18 saves across 180 minutes of action. He earned his second shutout of the season by turning aside all seven shots he faced against Texas Permian Basin. The Nighthawks then lost 2-1 to No. 5 West Texas A&M, but Price kept the team in it by recording a career-high 11 saves, the most in a GNAC game this season.

Also Nominated: Luca Battistotti (MSUB)

AROUND THE GNAC

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS
• Montana State Billings traveled to South Dakota Mines on Wednesday and dominated the Hardrockers 5-2.  
• Senior midfielder Paul Cuevas erupted for MSUB, scoring two goals and assisting on another. Cuevas’s five points were the second-most in a single game this season by a GNAC player.
• The Yellowjackets had an assist on all five goals. Junior forward Edgar Ramirez opened the scoring with an assist from sophomore forward Marvin Putu. Cuevas set up junior defender Bryan Maxwell for the second before scoring his first off a pass from redshirt junior forward Halil Yilmaz. Junior midfielder Jeremie Briquet had the final two assists for the Yellowjackets, setting up junior forward Austin Shafer for the fourth goal and Cuevas for the fifth. The five goals and five assists are both season highs for the GNAC.
• Briquet now leads the GNAC with three assists. He became the first GNAC player with multiple assists in a game this season, a feat that was matched two days later by David Settle of Saint Martin’s.
• Yilmaz continues to be MSUB’s greatest offensive threat. The junior forward ranks first in the GNAC with 18 shots and is tied for second in the conference with three goals and seven points.
• The Yellowjackets do not have a match until GNAC play begins on Sept. 30.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE
• Northwest Nazarene maintained their streak of going 1-1 in every week this season. The Nighthawks defeated Texas Permian Basin 3-0 on Thursday before losing 2-1 to No. 5 West Texas A&M.
• Sophomore goalkeeper Sawyer Price put the team on his back, making 18 saves across two matches and earning the GNAC Defensive Player of the Week award. Price stopped all seven shots he faced against Texas Permian Basin for his second shutout this year, then single-handedly kept No. 5 West Texas A&M on upset watch by making 11 saves in a narrow 2-1 Buffs win.
 • Senior defender Lorenzo Valentini and freshman midfielders Nils Knosala and Lukas Juodkunaitis scored for the Nighthawks against UTPB. Another freshman, Sullivan Smith, pulled one back for NNU against West Texas A&M.
• The Nighthawks have a strong international flavor to their offensive attack, with Norway’s Sebastian Cotrau (three goals, 10 shots), Germany’s Knosala (two goals, eight shots) and Lithuania’s Juodkunaitis (one goal, 11 shots) leading NNU’s offensive output.
•The Nighthawks do not have a match until GNAC play begins on Sept. 30.

SAINT MARTIN’S
• Saint Martin’s played two neutral-site match-ups in Texas, losing 7-1 to Northeastern State on Thursday and 4-3 in overtime to UC-Colorado Springs on Friday.
• Freshman midfielder David Settle assisted on two of the three goals against UCCS, setting up Diego Andrade and Isaac Hernandez. Between Settle and Jose Marquez, two of eight GNAC players with multiple assists wear a Saints uniform. Settle is one of two GNAC players this season with multiple assists in one game, alongside MSUB’s Jeremie Briquet, who also did it this week.
• Jason Fairhurst also scored an unassisted goal against UCCS. Fairhurst’s three goals and seven points are tied for second in the GNAC.  
• Saint Martin’s does not have a match until GNAC play begins on Sept. 30.

SEATTLE PACIFIC
• SPU won a top-25 showdown with then-No. 22 Regis 2-0 on Thursday before losing 3-2 in overtime to Colorado Mines (receiving votes) on Saturday.
• Senior forward Alex Mejia won the GNAC Offensive Player of the Week award by scoring a goal against both Regis and Colorado Mines. Mejia leads the GNAC with four goals despite playing two fewer games than the three players tied for second. Mejia ranks 9th in Division II with 2.5 shots on goal per match, and his one goal-per-match pace is 16th in Division II.
• Two other senior forwards found the net for SPU. Titus Grant scored his second goal of the year against Regis, and Alden Massey scored his first against Colorado Mines.
• Goalkeeper Lars Helleren continued his strong start to the season. Helleren ranks 12th in Division II with a .862 save percentage and 10th in Division II with 6.25 saves per match, leading the GNAC in both categories.
• The Falcons have excelled at getting to the corner flag. The team’s 9.5 corner kicks per match rank second in Division II.
• Seattle Pacific dropped six spots to No. 17 in the national poll and one spot to No. 3 in the West Region Poll.
• Seattle Pacific is in Hawaii this week, playing three matches at Hawaii Hilo on Wednesday, Chaminade on Saturday and Hawaii Pacific on Monday.

SIMON FRASER
• Simon Fraser had a brutal strength of schedule week, matching up with two top-20 teams. They lost 5-0 to No. 16 Colorado Mesa on Thursday and 3-0 to No. 10 Midwestern State on Saturday.
• Despite conceding eight goals this week, senior goalkeeper Aidan Bain is still keeping a significant number of balls out of the net for Simon Fraser. Bain’s 31 total saves lead the conference and rank tied for eighth in Division II, while his 5.17 saves per match are second in the GNAC and 31st in Division II. Bain ranks third in the GNAC with a save percentage of .756.
• Senior forward Connor Glennon leads the team with four points. His two assists are tied for second in the GNAC with six other players. Glennon ranks third in the GNAC with 12 shots, six of which have gone on target.
• Simon Fraser does not have a match until GNAC play begins on Sept. 30.

WESTERN WASHINGTON
• Western Washington earned a solid 1-0 win on Thursday against Colorado Mines, who later beat Seattle Pacific. The Vikings then lost 4-1 to then-No. 22 Regis on Saturday. In the first of three matches this week in Hawaii, the team lost a heart-breaker to Chaminade on Tuesday in double overtime, 4-3.
• Senior midfielder Drew Farnsworth has been the team’s offensive star. Farnsworth scored the winner against Colorado Mines on a curling free kick, and also added a goal and an assist against Chaminade.
• Junior forward Gilbert de la Cruz scored the Vikings’ goal against Regis, running down a long through ball played over the top by Mitchell Hutter.
• The team battled back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits against Chaminade to tie the score before giving up the game-winner in the 105th minute.
• After Brandon Wolter started the first two matches in goal, Patrick Restum has started the last three, including the shutout win against Colorado Mines.
• Western Washington will be in Hawaii for the rest of this week, taking on Hawaii Pacific on Friday and Hawaii Hilo on Sunday.

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