Falcons Control GNAC, Eye National Tournament
The Falcons are ranked No. 2 in the NCAA West Region Poll. The top-six teams from the region make the national tournament.
The Falcons are ranked No. 2 in the NCAA West Region Poll. The top-six teams from the region make the national tournament.

Friday, November 6, 2015

With one match remaining, the GNAC men’s soccer title is all for the taking for Seattle Pacific. Heading into the week, the Falcons can do no worse than tie for the championship with Simon Fraser, as they hold a three point lead over the Clan with one match remaining.

Both Seattle Pacific and Simon Fraser earned two victories last week. The Falcons defeated Mary 2-1 on Thursday and Montana State Billings 1-0 on Saturday. The steady defense of the Falcons has led them to a 13-1-3 overall record and 9-1-3 in conference for 30 points. On the season, they have allowed just eight goals and have only once allowed more than one goal in a match. The offense picked up the pace down the stretch, scoring 19 goals over their last eight matches.

Simon Fraser defeated two tough opponents on the road in Concordia 3-1 on Thursday and Northwest Nazarene 2-0 on Saturday to keep their hopes of earning a share of the GNAC title. With the victories, the Clan is three points back of Seattle Pacific with an 8-2-3 conference record and 27 points and has won five matches in a row. The wins last week were also important to the Clan’s chances at making the NCAA Division II Championships.

In the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Division II Top-25, Seattle Pacific remained the lone GNAC team ranked, moving up two spots to No. 7. The Falcons are ranked first in the NSCAA West Region, while Simon Fraser jumped up two spots to No. 8. In the NCAA Division II Regional Rankings, which decide the six teams from the region that make the national tournament, Seattle Pacific represents the GNAC at No. 2.

Northwest Nazarene defeated Western Washington 4-2 on Thursday, but fell 2-0 to Simon Fraser in an important match for both teams. The Crusaders continued to receive strong offensive performances from Julio Castillo and Erik Anderson. Castillo leads the conference in assists (15) and is in third in total assists. Anderson leads the Crusaders in goals (6) and is tied for sixth in the conference in points (17).

Concordia split a pair of matches as well last week, falling to Simon Fraser 3-1 on Thursday and defeating Western Washington 3-0 on Saturday. Matt Paine has been a point’s machine for the Crusaders this season, adding two more goals against Western Washington. Paine ranks second in the GNAC in points (28) and goals (11). The Crusaders are tied for fourth in the conference with 20 points and a 5-3-5 record. They have been a part of five of the GNAC’s eight ties this season.

Entering the week tied for fourth place with 20 points is Montana State Billings. The Yellowjackets have compiled a 6-5-2 conference record led by the top offense in the GNAC. However, the team was shut out in two important road matches last week, 2-0 to Saint Martin’s and 1-0 against Seattle Pacific. Ricardo Palomino continues to lead the GNAC in points (34), goals (16) and game-winning goals (5).

Saint Martin’s had its best week of the season with three victories. The Saints defeated Montana State Billings 2-0 on Thursday and Mary 3-2 on Saturday in GNAC play and had a dominating 9-0 win over Trinity Lutheran on Tuesday. Kyle Witzel scored three goals of the week and is tied for third in the conference in goals (8). The Saints are in sixth place in the conference with a 4-9-0 conference record and 12 points.

Western Washington and Mary each lost their two matches for the week. The Vikings were knocked off 4-2 by Northwest Nazarene on Thursday and 3-0 by Concordia on Saturday. Mary fell 2-1 to Seattle Pacific on Thursday and 3-2 to Saint Martin’s on Saturday. The Vikings enter the week in seventh place with a 3-8-2 conference record and 11 points while the Marauders are in eighth place with a 2-11-0 conference record and six points.

Seattle Pacific will be at home for its final match of the season, hosting Saint Martin’s on Senior Day for the Falcons. With either a win or tie, Seattle Pacific will outright clinch the GNAC Men’s Soccer Championship. The Falcons can also clinch with a Simon Fraser tie or loss against Western Washington.

The Clan will need a Seattle Pacific loss and a victory over Western Washington to earn a share of the GNAC title. Concordia hosts Northwest Nazarene and Montana State Billings welcomes Mary on the final day of the GNAC season.

The NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Championships selection show will be on Monday, Nov. 9 at 3 p.m. Pacific time. The top-six teams from the West Region will be selected to the tournament.