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Vikings, Falcons Win Slugfests As Offenses Heat Up
Gilbert De La Luz scored three goals in a 4-3 win against Saint Martin's, bringing his total tally to four.
Gilbert De La Luz scored three goals in a 4-3 win against Saint Martin's, bringing his total tally to four.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

The GNAC men’s soccer season couldn’t have gotten off to a more exciting start. Of the five matches played in the conference season’s opening week, four were decided by one goal and two featured a hat trick as part of a seven-goal thriller.

Gilbert De La Luz opened the scoring in the first half of Saturday’s match against Saint Martin’s. Then with his team down 3-2, he scored in the 71st and 82nd minutes to complete the hat trick, give his team the win and earn the GNAC Offensive Player of the Week award.

De La Luz had a lot of competition for that honor. Halil Yilmaz of Montana State Billings notched his second hat trick of the year against Seattle Pacific. That wasn’t enough for the Yellowjackets, as Alden Massey scored in the second overtime to give the Falcons a 4-3 win. Brody Thomas scored twice in Simon Fraser’s win over Saint Martin’s on Thursday and Lukas Juodkunaitis punctuated Northwest Nazarene’s 2-0 week with five points against Western Washington in a 3-2 Nighthawks win on Thursday.

The Nighthawks sit at the top of the table with all six points from their opening two GNAC matches, defeating the Vikings and Simon Fraser 1-0 on Saturday. GNAC Defensive Player of the Week Aidan McGinty led the shutout effort against SFU and scored off a set piece against the Vikings.

With the 4-3 win over MSUB in their only match of the week, Seattle Pacific is also undefeated in GNAC play and 7-1-0 on the year. The Falcons rose eight spots in the United Soccer Coaches national poll to No. 8, becoming the first GNAC team to crack the top 10 this season. Forward Alex Mejia is still on a goal-per-match pace, pacing the GNAC and ranking 11th in Division II with eight goals.

The Nighthawks and Falcons will meet head-to-head at Interbay Stadium on Thursday, the highlight of five upcoming matches this week. MSUB will host two matches vs. Saint Martin’s and NNU, while preseason conference favorites Western Washington and Simon Fraser will battle on Saturday in the only match of the week for those two schools.

GNAC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK 

OFFENSE
Gilbert De La Luz, Western Washington
F • 5-11 • Junior • Tacoma, Wash.
De La Luz had a hat trick in a 4-3 Saturday win over Saint Martin’s, including the 3-3 equalizer in the 71st minute and the game-winner in the 82nd minute. It was the first Viking hat trick since the 2015 season. De La Luz also contributed an assist in Thursday’s 3-2 loss to NNU.

Also Nominated: Halil Yilmaz (MSUB), Lukas Juodkunaitis (NNU), Brody Thomas (SFU), Ethan Jud (SMU), Alden Massey (SPU)

DEFENSE
Aidan McGinty, Northwest Nazarene
M • 6-1 • Sophomore • Washougal, Wash.
McGinty helped anchor the NNU defense to two huge wins over Western Washington and Simon Fraser, two teams that were projected to compete for the league title. He played a key role in shutting out SFU and scored a goal off a set piece to equalize for the Nighthawks in a comeback 3-2 win.

Also Nominated: Aidan Bain (SFU), Brian Licona (SMU)

AROUND THE GNAC

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS
• Montana State Billings opened GNAC play in a competitive fashion, with a 4-3 double overtime loss to No. 8 Seattle Pacific.
• Halil Yilmaz put the team on his back for the second time this season. The redshirt junior forward from Wiesbaden, Germany scored three goals against Seattle Pacific, the second time this year that Yilmaz had a hat trick and accounted for all of the team’s goals in doing so.
• Yilmaz ranks second in the GNAC in goals (six), points (13) and shots (25).
• A pair of Yellowjacket midfielders, Marvin Putu and Jeremie Briquet, share the conference lead in assists with four apiece, with two of Putu’s coming against Seattle Pacific. Putu ranks 16th in Division II with 0.67 assists per match, while Briquet’s 0.57 ranks 31st.
• Montana State Billings will host Saint Martin’s on Thursday, followed by conference-leading Northwest Nazarene on Saturday.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE
• Northwest Nazarene leaped to the top of the standings after the first week, defeating Western Washington 3-2 on Thursday and Simon Fraser 1-0 on Saturday.
• Sophomore midfielder Aidan McGinty was named the GNAC Defensive Player of the Week for his contributions in shutting out Simon Fraser. McGinty also scored off a cross from Lukas Juodkunaitis against Western Washington.
• In addition to his assist, Juodkunaitis scored the other two goals against the Vikings, including the game-winner in the 73rd minute. Against Simon Fraser, Juodkunaitis sent a dangerous cross into the box that deflected off a Simon Fraser defender and into the net.
• Sophomore goalkeeper Sawyer Price recorded his third shutout of the year against SFU, which is tied for the league lead. Price is third in the GNAC with a 1.38 goals against average and fourth in the GNAC with 31 saves, just two off the league lead. 
• Jimmy Koufidakis assisted on Juodkunaitis’s game-winner against WWU, giving him his third of the season, who ranks tied for second in the GNAC.
• Sophomore forward Sebastien Cotrau shares the team lead in goals with Juodkunaitis (three), a mark that is tied for sixth in the GNAC.
• The Nighthawks will head on the road for two more challenging matches, taking on No. 8 Seattle Pacific on Thursday and Montana State Billings on Saturday.

SAINT MARTIN’S
• Saint Martin’s got off to an 0-2 start in conference play, losing 2-0 to Simon Fraser on Thursday and coming up short in a back-and-forth battle with Western Washington on Saturday, 4-3.
• Forward Ethan Jud and midfielder David Settle scored against WWU. It was Jud’s second goal of the season and Settle’s first. Settle is tied with Jose Marquez and Jason Fairhurst for the team lead with two assists.
• Fairhust leads the team and is tied for sixth in the GNAC in both goals (three) and points (eight). Fairhurst’s team-leading 14 shots rank tied for ninth in the conference.
• Sophomore goalkeeper Hunter Askland has played all but 41 minutes of the season in goal for the Saints. His 32 saves rank third in the GNAC and 46th in Division II. SMU’s team total of 37 saves (the other five were made by sophomore Bryce Porter) leads the conference, and their 4.88 saves per match ranks 38th in Division II.
• Saint Martin’s will go on the road for the first time in GNAC play, traveling to Montana State Billings on Thursday and No. 8 Seattle Pacific on Saturday.

SEATTLE PACIFIC
• Seattle Pacific won their only match of the week in thrilling fashion, weathering a Halil Yilmaz hat trick to beat Montana State Billings 4-3 in double overtime.
• Senior forwards Alex Mejia and Alden Massey have been offensive terrors for the Falcons this season, and the duo combined for two of SPU’s four goals. Massey found Mejia in the 47th minute to equalize the match at 2-2 and give Mejia his conference-leading eighth goal of the season. In the second overtime, Mejia played a through ball over the top, and Massey ran onto it and rounded the keeper for a tap-in finish to end the match.
• Mejia’s eight goals tie him for 11th in Division II. He also leads the GNAC in shots (31) and points (17). His rate of a goal per match is seventh in Division II, and 2.62 shots on goal per match are tied for fourth in Division II. Massey ranks third in the GNAC in points (11) and is tied for third in goals (four).
• Senior midfielder Travis Swallow and sophomore forward Judah Johnston also scored against the Yellowjackets.
• The Falcons rose 10 spots to No. 8 in the United Soccer Coaches national poll, and rose two spots to No. 1 in the West Region poll.
• Seattle Pacific stays at home this week, hosting conference leaders Northwest Nazarene on Thursday and Saint Martin’s on Saturday.

SIMON FRASER
• Simon Fraser opened with a 2-0 win at Saint Martin’s before taking a 1-0 road loss to Northwest Nazarene.
• Freshman Brody Thomas scored both goals in the second half against the Saints. Thomas now has three goals on the season, no other SFU player has more than one.
• Senior forward Connor Glennon leads the team in shots (21, fourth in the GNAC) and assists (two, tied for fifth in the GNAC) in addition to scoring a goal.
• Aidan Bain’s 33 saves are tied for the lead in the GNAC and tied for 39th in Division II. His 1.34 goals against average is second in the conference.
• Simon Fraser has been one of the most disciplined teams in Division II. Their eight fouls per match are the fifth-fewest in Division II.
• Simon Fraser has only one match this week, traveling to Bellingham on Saturday to face Western Washington.

WESTERN WASHINGTON
• Western Washington came out on both sides of two high-scoring affairs, losing 3-2 to Northwest Nazarene on Thursday and beating Saint Martin’s 4-3 on Saturday.
• The Vikings won the GNAC Offensive Player of the Week award for the second straight week. This time, the honor went to junior forward Gilbert De La Luz, who scored a hat trick against Saint Martin’s that included a 71st-minute equalizer at 3-3 and an 82nd-minute game-winner. De La Luz now has four goals this season, sharing third in the GNAC with SPU’s Alden Massey and teammate Drew Farnsworth.
• Farnsworth got his fourth of the season against Northwest Nazarene off an assist from De La Luz. Freshman Lucas Hamakada got his first college goal against the Nighthawks, while senior Alex Whiting got his season’s first against Saint Martin’s.
• Farnsworth ranks third in the GNAC in shots with 23.
• As a team, Western Washington ranks second in the GNAC in shots (114), points (42), goals (15), assists (12) and corner kicks (40).
• Western Washington will host Simon Fraser in their only match of the week on Saturday.

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