Calm Before GNAC Storm Settles Over Men’s Soccer
Second-year program Western Oregon is among the league leaders after completing the non-conference slate with a 3-2-0 record.
Second-year program Western Oregon is among the league leaders after completing the non-conference slate with a 3-2-0 record.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023
by Thomas Lal

PORTLAND, Ore. – The calm before the storm has officially settled over the conference as all seven men’s soccer programs take a week off from competition to rest and prepare ahead of the GNAC slate.

A brief moment to reflect reveals five teams on the right side of the .500 mark with second-year program Western Oregon leading the way on a 3-2-0 non-conference record. Along with the Wolves, Montana State Billings’ (3-2-1) non-conference performances mean that two of the top programs heading into conference play have never won a GNAC title.

Preseason favorites Western Washington (3-2-1) and Simon Fraser (3-2-1) cannot be ignored, however, and will both come into GNAC play on the back of two shutouts. The Vikings were dominant in matches against RMAC opponents Colorado Mines and Regis while the Red Leafs shut down Fort Lewis (Colo.) and Colorado Mesa.

This Week's Storylines

Montana State Billings has gotten off to a 3-2-1 start after netting 11 goals in six matches to open the season. Nearly half of those goals have come from the foot of sophomore forward Ty Vohland. The Sherwood, Ore., native has struck five times already to tie for first in the GNAC and ninth in Division II. Vohland notched his fifth tally of the season just last week in Burnaby, opening the Yellowjackets’ 1-1 draw with Fort Lewis on Saturday with a hard-struck ball from outside of the box in the 12th minute.

Vohland is one of six Yellowjackets to feature on the scoresheet and leads the team with 11 points. His points total also ties him for first in the conference and 12th in the division.

ROAD WARRIORS: Of the 40 matches played by GNAC men’s soccer teams thus far, the vast majority have been played on the road with 20 being true away games and 10 being played at neutral sites. Heading into the conference slate, Montana State Billings, Simon Fraser and Saint Martin’s all boast undefeated away records. The Yellowjackets are 2-0-0 while both the Red Leafs and the Saints are 1-0-0 in true road contests. 

Defending GNAC champion Northwest Nazarene and Saint Martin’s are the only teams yet to play at home this season. The Nighthawks haven’t had the luxury of playing games in their home state, instead traveling to Hawaii, Colorado and Texas to open the season. The Saints, meanwhile, made a trip to California for opening week before playing three neutral site matches within the conference footprint. 

DON’T SLEEP ON SEATTLE: Seattle Pacific has been one of the most prolific offensive teams in the conference to start the season, leading the GNAC with 5.17 points per game and tied for the lead with 11 goals in six matches. The Falcons’ impressive passing also shows in their statistics as SPU leads the GNAC with nine assists and ranks second with 1.50 assists per game. The offense has been led by junior midfielder Raymundo Mendez with three goals and two assists. Mendez is one of 11 Falcons to factor in on the scoresheet, with sophomore forward Orlando Erazo second on the team with six points on three goals. 

HOW SWEDE IT IS: Western Washington sophomore forward Albin Jonsson has picked up right where he left off last season and is tied for the GNAC lead with five goals and 11 points in six matches. The Skellefteå, Sweden native had one of his best weeks of the season just last week, scoring three goals, including two game-winners, to be named the GNAC Offensive Player of the Week.

Jonsson is one of two Swedish players to suit up for the Vikings this season along with sophomore defender Joar Tidblom. The 6’2 defender has been a regular game-changer for Western Washington, playing in five matches while starting one and logging 220 minutes.

LEADING THE PACK: Western Oregon (3-2-0) is leading the way early in the season after the non-conference slate. The Wolves have been quietly getting business done on the back of a solid passing game and excellent goalkeeping. As a team, WOU leads the GNAC with 1.80 assists per game and is tied for the conference lead with nine total assists. The Wolves also lead the GNAC with 33 saves, all courtesy of senior goalkeeper Juan Suarez who ranks fifth in Division II.

Offensively, Western Oregon has been bolstered by its top two scoring threats, junior forward/midfielder Alejandro Velasco and junior forward Gabriel Silva. The two upperclassmen have tallied six points apiece with Velasco netting three goals and Silva scoring two while adding an assist.

SHUTOUT CITY: Simon Fraser has been the top defensive team in the conference, leading the GNAC and ranking 18th in Division II with a .500 save percentage through six matches. Senior goalkeeper Justyn Sandhu has played every minute in net for the Red Leafs, racking up 30 saves to rank second in the conference and 10th in the division. He has been stellar when opponents find their way to the net and owns a GNAC-leading .882 save percentage to prove it.

As a team, Simon Fraser has allowed just 0.67 goals per game and leads the conference with three shutouts. The offensive production for SFU has seen eight players factor in on the scoresheet, led by freshman forward Koji Poon. The Vancouver, B.C. product has been on fire to start his collegiate career, amassing six points on three goals, including a pair of game-winners.

National Rankings

The third United Soccer Coaches Division II rankings of the season came out on Sept. 12 with no GNAC teams featuring in the top 25.  

Poll Team 1 Team 2
Preseason 6. NNU NR
Sept. 5 22. NNU RV SFU
Sept. 12 None  
Sept. 19 None  
GNAC Men's Soccer In The NCAA Statistical National Rankings

Through games on Sept. 17.

Team Rankings (Top-30)

Assists Per Game: 25. SPU, 1.83
Corner Kicks Per Game: 11. SPU, 6.83
Save Percentage: 8. SFU, .886
Saves Per Game: 6. WOU, 6.80; 11. SMU, 6.00; 29. SFU, 5.17
Shutout Percentage: 18. SFU, .500
Goals Against Average: 18. SFU, .667
Assists: 18. SPU, 11

Individual Rankings (Top-30)

Assists Per Game: 7, Moises Cisneros, WOU, .800
Game-Winning Goals: 1. Albin Jonsson, WWU, 3; 4. Koji Poon, SFU, 2; 4. Jim Wagenaar, NNU, 2
Goalie Minutes Played: 2. Jeremi Campagnolo, MSUB, 540:00; 2. Brandon Locke, WWU, 540:00; 2. Sawyer Price, WWU, 540:00; 2. Justyn Sandhu, SFU, 540:00
Goals Against Average: 27. Justyn Sandhu, SFU, .667
Goals Per Game: 18. Albin Jonsson, WWU, .830; 18. Ty Vohland, MSUB, .830
Penalty Kicks: 1. Diego Andrade, SMU, 1.000; 1. Callum Bryan, MSUB, 1.000; 1. Jacob Garcia, WOU, 1.000
Points Per Game: 29. Albin Jonsson, WWU, 1.83; 29. Ty Vohland, MSUB, 1.83
Save Percentage: 15. Justyn Sandhu, SFU, .882; 29. Nick Mueller, SMU, .844
Saves Per Game: 7. Juan Suarez, WOU, 6.60; 14. Nick Mueller, SMU, 5.40; 23. Justyn Sandhu, SFU, 5.00
Shot Accuracy: 26. Niko Papakyriakopoulos, SFU, .667
Shutouts: 8. Justyn Sandhu, 3; 18. Jeremi Campagnolo, MSUB, 2; 18. Brandon Locke, WWU, 2; 18. Nick Mueller, SMU, 2
Assists: 6. Moises Cisneros, WOU, 4; 21. Bjarne Fedkenhauer, MSUB, 3
Goals: 9. Albin Jonsson, WWU, 5; 9. Ty Vohland, MSUB, 5
Points: 12. Albin Jonsson, WWU, 11; 12. Ty Vohland, MSUB, 11
Saves: 5. Juan Suarez, WOU, 33; 10. Justyn Sandhu, SFU, 30; 17. Nick Mueller, SMU, 27

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. 11 Raymundo Mendez, Seattle Pacific Brandon Locke, Western Washington
Sept. 18 Albin Jonsson, Western Washington Justyn Sandhu, Simon Fraser

Sept. 18 GNAC Men's Soccer Players of the Week

Offensive: Albin Jonsson, Western Washington

Leading the Vikings to a pair of victories last week, Jonsson tallied three goals including two game-winners. Jonsson tucked away his first finish just 20 minutes into the Vikings’ 3-0 triumph over Colorado School of Mines on Thursday. He followed with a 15th-minute strike against Regis on Saturday, which held up as the game-winner in the 2-0 result. Jonsson vaulted his name to the top of the GNAC leaderboard with five goals this season.

Also Nominated: Ty Vohland, MSUB; Arjun Gill, SMU; Orlando Erazo, SPU; Koji Poon, SFU.

Defensive: Justyn Sandhu, Simon Fraser

Sandhu was instrumental in the Red Leafs’ undefeated weekend, as he played all 180 minutes between the posts without conceding a goal. Sandhu made seven saves – one off his season high – in SFU’s 1-0 victory over Fort Lewis on Thursday while facing 16 shots. He followed with four more saves against Colorado Mesa on Saturday, playing a crucial role in the eventual 0-0 draw against the Mavericks. Sandhu ranks second in the GNAC this season with 5.00 saves per game and first in the conference in both goals against average (0.67) and save percentage (.882).

Also Nominated: Jeremi Campagnolo, MSUB; Seth Kobata, SMU; Mitchell Wilson, SPU; Juan Suarez, WOU; Mitchell Hutter, WWU.