4 GNAC Men’s Soccer Teams Head Into Week Undefeated
Montana State Billings was one of four GNAC teams to go undefeated in the first week of the 2023 season after wins over South Dakota Mines and Carroll College.
Montana State Billings was one of four GNAC teams to go undefeated in the first week of the 2023 season after wins over South Dakota Mines and Carroll College.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023
by Thomas Lal

PORTLAND, Ore. – With the regular season underway, all of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference men’s soccer programs are set for another full week of competition. The new week sees Montana State Billings, Simon Fraser, Western Oregon and Northwest Nazarene all undefeated as they look to continue their strong form against regional competition ahead of the conference slate.

The first week of the regular season offered the first opportunity for several new faces to make an early impact. One of the new players who shone brightest last week was Simon Fraser freshman forward Koji Poon who tallied not only his first collegiate goal but his first brace in the Red Leafs’ 2-1 win over Stanislaus State last Thursday. Poon was rewarded with GNAC Offensive Player of the Week honors for his efforts in SFU’s comeback win but wasn’t the only newcomer to make an immediate impact.

Western Oregon transfer Moises Cisneros was a key contributor for the Wolves and first-year head coach Michael Behonick. The junior midfielder notched two assists in WOU’s 3-1 win over Hawaii Pacific last week and has played every minute of the young season for the Wolves.

This week almost every team will hit the road as the regional matchups come thick and fast. Simon Fraser will be the only team on home soil as it faces a pair of CCAA opponents. Saint Martin’s will also make the trip north to play in Burnaby while Seattle Pacific, Western Oregon, and Western Washington all head to California. Montana State Billings and Northwest Nazarene will remain in mountain time as they travel to South Dakota and Colorado, respectively.

This Week's Storylines

Western Oregon (2-0-0) is already off to the best start in its young program history after recording back-to-back wins over Hawaii Hilo, 2-1, and Hawaii Pacific, 3-1, to open the season. The Wolves will face another formidable challenge this week as they resume play on Thursday against Cal State Dominguez Hills (0-0-1) in Carson, Calif. The Toros are the top team receiving votes outside of the top 25 in Division II and were picked No. 3 in the CCAA preseason poll. Western Oregon will look to continue the offensive output that sees them rank at the top of the conference with five goals in just two games.

CALIFORNIA DREAMING: Seattle Pacific (1-1-0) will look to build on its 2-1 win over Sonoma State last Saturday with more solid performances against a pair of PacWest opponents this week. The Falcons are set to face Point Loma (0-2-0) on Thursday in San Diego before making their way up the coast to take on Concordia (0-1-0) in Irvine, Calif. on Saturday.

THERE’S NAVY & GOLD IN THOSE MOUNTAINS: Montana State Billings (2-0-0) is set for an early season rematch against South Dakota Mines (0-2-0) on Wednesday after defeating the Hardrockers 2-1 last Friday. The Yellowjackets will stay put in Rapid City, S.D. to face Texas A&M International (0-2-0) at O’Harra Stadium on Friday. Montana State Billings has been one of the best defensive teams in the conference early in the season, allowing just one goal to tie for first in the GNAC. Sophomore defender Kolja Thomas was a key part of the defense and the offense last week after playing all 180 minutes and recording the game-winning goal against South Dakota Mines to open the season.

INTERNATIONAL IMPLICATIONS: Simon Fraser (2-0-0) will look to continue its winning ways in its home opener on Thursday against Chico State (2-0-0). Simon Fraser took 2-1 and 2-0 wins over Stanislaus State and Westmont, respectively, to garner votes in the United Soccer Coaches Division II poll on Sept. 5. The Red Leafs will be facing a Wildcats squad that’s hungry for more results after cracking the top 25 for the first time this season at No. 25. Simon Fraser will look to freshman forward Koji Poon to continue being a gamechanger for SFU after the Vancouver, B.C. native netted a brace in his first collegiate game last Thursday.

SAILING DOWN SOUTH: Western Washington (0-1-1) will aim to secure its first win of the young season after facing a pair of strong CCAA opponents last week. The Vikings turn their attention to two PacWest opponents for the second week of the regular season in Concordia (0-1-0) and Point Loma (0-2-0). In particular, head coach Greg Brisbon will hope to get his offense rolling on the road against a pair of teams that have struggled to keep the ball out of their own net in the first week of the regular season. Sophomore forward Albin Jonsson leads the team after one week with one goal on five shots.

NO-NONSENSE NIGHTHAWKS: Northwest Nazarene (1-0-1) is headed to Colorado this week for a pair of matches at the Colorado Mesa Men’s Soccer Showcase in Grand Junction, Colo. The Nighthawks will face host Colorado Mesa (1-1-0) on Thursday before turning their attention to Westminster (Utah) (1-1-0) on Saturday. Northwest Nazarene is one of four undefeated teams in the conference after the first week and will look to solidify its place in the national rankings after coming in at No. 22 in the United Soccer Coaches poll on Sept. 5.

SAINTS ARE BURNABY BOUND: Saint Martin’s (1-1-0) will be taking an early trip north of the border this week to play a pair of games against CCAA opponents on the mountain at Simon Fraser. The Saints will take on Sonoma State (0-1-1) on Thursday and No. 25 Chico State (2-0-0) on Saturday. Saint Martin’s was led by junior midfielder Diego Andrade and junior forward Angel Alvarado-Fajardo through the first week of the regular season with both players scoring a goal.

Player to Watch


Raymundo Mendez - Seattle Pacific

A new transfer to the program from Columbia Basin, Mendez wasted no time putting himself on the scoresheet for the Falcons, netting his first goal of the season in just the fourth minute of SPU’s 2-1 win over Sonoma State last Saturday. Mendez was an offensive powerhouse in the NWAC last year, racking up 29 points on 10 goals and nine assists while helping lead Columbia Basin to a conference championship.

Mendez already looks settled in with the Falcons after starting both of the team’s matches last week. Along with his goal, the junior midfielder has logged three shots and is tied for the team lead with two points heading into the second week of the regular season. Mendez and the Falcons will look to keep Seattle Pacific in the win column as it heads south to face Point Loma on Thursday and Concordia (Calif.) on Saturday.


National Rankings

The first United Soccer Coaches Division II rankings of the season came out on Sept. 5 with Northwest Nazarene remaining in the top 25 after coming in at No. 6 in the preseason poll.  Simon Fraser also received votes in this week’s poll after going 2-0 at the Westmont Heritage Club Classic to open the season.

Poll Team 1 Team 2
Preseason 6. NNU NR
Sept. 5 22. NNU RV SFU
GNAC Men's Soccer In The NCAA Statistical National Rankings

Through games on Sept. 5.

Team Rankings (Top-30)

Assists Per Game: 23. SFU, 2.00; 23. WOU, 2.00
Corner Kicks Per Game: 18. MSUB, 7.50
Fouls Per Game: 27. SMU, 7.50
Goal Differential: 24. SFU, 3; 24. WOU, 3
Save Percentage: 23. WOU, .905; 24. SMU, .889
Saves Per Game: 1. WOU, 9.50; 5. SMU, 8.00
Shot Accuracy: 14. WOU, .684
Shutout Percentage: 18. MSUB, .500; 18. SMU, .500; 18. SFU, .500
Goals Against Average: 20. MSUB, .500, 20. SFU, .500
Assists: 20. SFU, 4; 20. WOU, 4
Goals: 25. WOU, 5
Points: 30. WOU, 14
Won-Lost-Tied Percentage: 1. MSUB, 1.000; 1. SFU, 1.000; 1. WOU, 1.000

Individual Rankings (Top-30)

Assists Per Game: 6. Moises Cisneros, WOU, 1.50
Game-Winning Goals: 5. Nine Players Tied, 1
Goalie Minutes Played: 6. Seven Players Tied, 180:00
Goals Against Average: 30. Jeremi Campagnolo, MSUB, .500; 30. Justyn Sandhu, SFU, .500
Goals Per Game: 26. Yahir Ocampo, WOU, 1.00; 26. Koji Poon, SFU, 1.00; 26. Alejandro Velasco, WOU, 1.00; Jim Wagenaar, NNU, 1.00
Penalty Kicks: 1. Diego Andrade, SMU, 1.000; 1. Callum Bryan, MSUB, 1.000; 1. Jacob Garcia, WOU, 1.000
Saves Per Game: 2. Juan Suarez, WOU, 9.00; 7. Nick Mueller, SMU, 8.00
Shots Per Game: 23. Jacob Garcia, WOU, 4.00
Shutouts: 6. Jeremi Campagnolo, MSUB, 1; 6. Nick Mueller, SMU, 1; 6. Justyn Sandhu, SFU, 1
Assists: 7. Moises Cisneros, WOU, 2
Goals: 20. Yahir Ocampo, WOU, 2; 20. Koji Poon, SFU, 2; 20. Alejandro Velasco, WOU, 2
Points: 24. Jim Wagenaar, NNU, 5
Saves: 1. Juan Suarez, WOU, 18; 5. Nick Mueller, SMU, 16


2023 GNAC Men's Soccer Players of the Week
Date Offensive Player of the Week Defensive Player of the Week
Sept. 5 Koji Poon, Simon Fraser Kolja Thomas, Montana State Billings

Sept. 5 GNAC Men's Soccer Players of the Week

Offensive: Koji Poon, Simon Fraser

Getting his collegiate career started with a bang, Poon lifted SFU to a come-from-behind victory over Stanislaus State last Thursday. With the Red Leafs facing a 1-0 deficit at halftime, the true freshman scored his first collegiate goal in the 60th minute to pull the scoreline level. Just three minutes later Poon struck again, punching home what proved to be the match-winner in the 63rd minute. Poon followed his brace with a 72-minute effort in SFU’s 2-0 win over Westmont as the Red Leafs got their campaign started with a 2-0 record.

Also Nominated: Callum Bryan, MSUB; Jim Wagenaar, NNU; Angel Alvarado-Fajardo, SMU; Luis Zazueta, SPU; Alejandro Velasco, WOU.    

Defensive: Kolja Thomas, Montana State Billings

Leading the Yellowjackets to a 2-0 start to their season, sophomore center back Kolja Thomas contributed on both sides of the ball on opening weekend. Thomas provided a goal in the 38th minute of their match against South Dakota Mines on Friday, a finish that proved to be the game-winner in the hosts’ 2-1 triumph. Thomas followed with his second straight 90-minute performance on Sunday, this time helping MSUB to a clean sheet with a 1-0 victory over Carroll College.

Also Nominated: Nick Mueller, SMU; Cam Welty, SPU; Justyn Sandhu, SFU; Juan Suarez, WOU.