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Big Upset Spotlights Wolves, Shakes Up Standings
Freshman Lilly Nowatzke smiles as her teammates congratulate her after she scored an overtime game-winning goal to beat No. 7 SPU.
Freshman Lilly Nowatzke smiles as her teammates congratulate her after she scored an overtime game-winning goal to beat No. 7 SPU.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

The Seattle Pacific Falcons came in flying high, winners of six straight and having scored 17 unanswered goals. But on an overcast Saturday in Monmouth, the Falcons were unable to run with the Wolves.

Freshman midfielder and GNAC Offensive Player of the Week Lilly Nowatzke scored the game-winner in the 96th minute, sophomore goalkeeper and GNAC Defensive Player of the Week Emily Wheeler shut out an attack that entered averaging nearly 3.5 goals per match, and Western Oregon defeated then-No. 7 Seattle Pacific 1-0 to knock the Falcons off their perch at the top of the GNAC.    

After SPU’s loss, Western Washington is the only undefeated team in the conference. The Vikings beat Central Washington 6-0 on Thursday and Northwest Nazarene 1-0 on Saturday.  

The week ahead features the first of two high-profile showdowns between Seattle Pacific and Western Washington, the GNAC’s two ranked teams, on Saturday. The Falcons fell 18 spots but remained in the rankings at No. 25, while Western Washington climbed four spots to No. 6. On Thursday, SPU will host Simon Fraser. Those two teams will enter that meeting tied for second in the GNAC standings.

GNAC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Lilly Nowatzke, Western Oregon
M • 5-8 • Freshman • Shoreview, Minn.
Nowatzke tallied the golden goal in the upset overtime win for WOU against No. 7 Seattle Pacific in the 96th minute of a 1-0 contest, knocking home a cross from Chloe Smith in front of the net. She recorded four shots and played 166 minutes over two matches this week.

Also Nominated: Sydney Torres (MSUB), Giuliana Zaurrini (SFU), Maddie Wolff (SMU), Makena Rietz (SPU), Jenna Killman (WWU)

DEFENSE
Emily Wheeler, Western Oregon
GK • 5-8 • Sophomore • Roseburg, Ore.
Wheeler’s first two starts of the season were hugely significant ones, helping WOU to a 1-0-1 week. Wheeler came up with four saves in the 1-0 shutout overtime victory against No. 7 Seattle Pacific, then made five saves while playing all 110 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Montana State Billings.

Also Nominated: Claire Keenan (MSUB), Emma Ferraro (SFU), Ali Campigotto (SMU), Natalie Dierickx (WWU)

AROUND THE GNAC

CENTRAL WASHINGTON
• Central Washington dropped two GNAC games on the road, falling 6-0 to Western Washington on Thursday and 2-1 to Simon Fraser on Saturday, to extend their losing streak to seven games.
• Sophomore goalkeeper Liz Canton was the unquestioned star of the week for the Wildcats. Canton, who took over the starting job at halftime of CWU’s GNAC-opening loss to Northwest Nazarene, faced 56 shots over last week’s two matches, a school record for a two-game stretch. Canton conceded eight goals but made 22 saves, making 13 against Western Washington alone, which was a GNAC single-game high this season.
• Canton’s 32 saves are third-most in the GNAC and her mark of 6.4 saves per match leads the conference. Coupled with 27 saves from senior Megan Fox, who herself ranks fourth in the GNAC in total saves, the Wildcats’ 59 saves are 10 more than any other GNAC program.
 • Even with Canton’s heroics, it must be said that the play of the rest of CWU’s defense required her to be busy. The Wildcats allowed 37 shots to WWU and 19 shots to Simon Fraser, including six within the first eight minutes.
• Freshman forward Stacia Conely scored for Central Washington against Simon Fraser, which equalized the match at the time. It was the first goal of Conely’s college career. She previously had an assist against College of Idaho.
• Senior forward Makinzie Packwood is the only Wildcat with multiple goals or multiple assists. She has two of each, but hasn’t scored a point since Sept. 18.
• Central Washington, which has only played one home match so far this year, will get their first two GNAC home matches this week. The Wildcats will host Western Oregon on Thursday and Saint Martin’s on Saturday.

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS
• Montana State Billings went 0-1-1 in a pair of road matches, losing 2-0 to Saint Martin’s on Thursday and playing to a 1-1 stalemate with Western Oregon on Saturday.
• Sophomore forward Sydney Torres scored her second goal of the season against WOU off an assist from freshman Maddie Smith. Smith’s three assists are tied for second in the GNAC.
• Clare Keenan filled up the stat sheet again for MSUB, making 10 saves across two matches. Keenan’s weekly total was second-most in the GNAC, and her season total of 37 is also second-highest.
• Freshmen continue to produce for MSUB. Each of the Yellowjackets’ multi-goal scorers – forward Liberty Palmer (three), forward Jordan Roe (two) and Torres (two) are all in their first year of eligibility.
• Yet another freshman, defender Hailey Gertsch, has been a fixture in MSUB’s lineup, leading the GNAC in minutes played with 761. Her twin sister, midfielder Taylor Gertsch, ranks third on the team in minutes played (635) and second on the team in assists (two).
• The Yellowjackets have done better after the break this season, scoring seven of their ten goals in the second half.
• Montana State Billings dropped out of the United Soccer Coaches West Region  Poll. They were ranked for three consecutive weeks as high as No. 9.
• Montana State Billings will host two opponents off to hot starts in the conference season, taking on No. 6 Western Washington on Thursday and Simon Fraser on Saturday.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE
• Northwest Nazarene had an 0-2 week, losing via forfeit to Simon Fraser on Thursday and playing to a 1-0 loss at No. 6 Western Washington on Saturday. For the Simon Fraser game, NNU received a loss in the GNAC standings but their overall record will not be impacted.
• Goalkeeper Alexis Montoya’s 41 saves lead the conference, and her 5.86 saves per match are second in the conference. Against Western Washington, Montoya made nine saves to keep the Vikings at bay. That was a season-high for Montoya and tied for the second-most in a single game by a GNAC player this year.
• Sophomore midfielder Madison Grande and senior midfielder McKenzie Buell each have two goals to lead the team. Grande also leads the team and ranks seventh in the GNAC in shots (19), while Buell has an assist with her two goals to lead the team in points with five.
• Junior defender Magda Wronski leads the team and is tied for second in the GNAC with three assists. As a team, Northwest Nazarene ranks third in the GNAC and 42nd in Division II with 1.71 assists per match.
• The Nighthawks will be back at home this week, hosting Saint Martin’s on Thursday and Western Oregon on Saturday.

SAINT MARTIN’S
• Saint Martin’s defeated Montana State Billings 2-0 at home on Thursday before losing to a motivated Seattle Pacific team 3-0 on Saturday in Lacey.
• Freshman midfielder Rebecca Garrison had a three-point game against the Yellowjackets. In a downpour, Garrison sent a through ball skidding through the defense that sophomore midfielder Maddie Wolff finished off six minutes into the match. Eleven minutes later, Garrison got a goal of her own with an assist from fellow freshman Payton Aselton.
• It was Wolff’s second goal of the season, with both coming during conference play. Wolff’s two goals tie her for the team lead with senior Kiersten Madsen. Both of Madsen’s goals came on penalty kicks. She is the only GNAC player to convert a PK so far this year.
• Madsen narrowly leads the team in shots (13), just ahead of Aselton (12). Aselton’s six shots this week were the fourth-most in the GNAC.
• After missing two games, Ali Campigotto returned to the net in this week’s matches, notching her second shutout of the season against MSUB and making seven saves in the loss to Seattle Pacific, tying a season-high for the sophomore.
• With two wins in their first four GNAC matches, the Saints have already matched their total from the 2019 season, the last time conference matches were contested.
• The Saints have scored nine goals and conceded nine goals this year. They are one of only three GNAC teams to have a positive or even goal differential, alongside ranked teams Seattle Pacific and Western Washington.
• Saint Martin’s will cross the Cascade Mountains for two matches this week, playing at Northwest Nazarene on Thursday and at Central Washington on Saturday.

SEATTLE PACIFIC
• Seattle Pacific endured a shocking 1-0 loss on the road to Western Oregon on Thursday, but bounced back to comfortably defeat Saint Martin’s 3-0 on Saturday.
• Senior goalie Riley Travis made four saves against Western Oregon, the most she’s been required to make this season, before conceding the game-winner off a deflection. Travis leads the conference in both goals against average (0.30, ranks ninth in Division II) and save percentage (.889, ranks tied for 22nd in Division II).
• The goal by Western Oregon’s Lilly Nowatzke broke a scoreless streak of 509 minutes by the Falcons’ defense. Since last conceding against Chico State in the opening match of the year on Sept. 11, the Falcons had scored 17 unanswered goals. It was also the first time in 17 matches that SPU had been shut out.
• The Falcons returned to their previous dominance against Saint Martin’s. Travis posted a two-save shutout, her fifth of the season, and senior midfielder Makena Rietz scored two goals for SPU before Lauren Forster added a third.
• Claire Nader had two assists for the Falcons, one on each of Rietz’s goals. Nader is tied for second in the GNAC with three assists, trailing teammate Sophia Chilczuk, who has five including one against the Saints. Chilczuk leads Division II with 0.83 assists per match.
• AJ DePinto also had an assist against Saint Martin’s. DePinto and Western Washington’s Tera Ziemer are tied for the GNAC lead in points with 10, while those two plus Forster and Rietz have a GNAC-leading four goals.
• The Falcons rank fifth in Division II with 2.86 assists per match, fourth in Division II with a .283 goals against average and ninth in Division II with 8.57 points per match.
• The Falcons fell 18 spots to No. 25 in the United Soccer Coaches national poll and three spots to No. 4 in the West Region Poll.
• Seattle Pacific will face Simon Fraser on Thursday with the two teams being tied for second in the GNAC standings. On Saturday, the Falcons host a showdown with No. 6 Western Washington. The Vikings had been unbeaten in 21 meetings against the Falcons before SPU won 4-1 in April 2021.

SIMON FRASER
• Simon Fraser had a 2-0 week in the GNAC standings, winning by forfeit against Northwest Nazarene on Thursday before beating Central Washington 2-1 on Saturday. For the NNU game, Simon Fraser received a win in the GNAC standings, but their overall record will not be impacted.
• Sophomore Giuliana Zaurrini opened the scoring against the Wildcats in the 28th minute with a goal directly from a corner kick. It is the second time this season that an SFU player has scored from a corner, as freshman midfielder Kate Cartier also did it Sept. 23 against Western Washington. Zaurrini and Cartier each have scored two goals to lead Simon Fraser on the season.
• Freshman midfielder Mackenzie Almeida netted the game-winner off the bench in the 78th minute with a laser of a strike from outside the 18-yard box for her first collegiate goal. It was Simon Fraser’s first second-half goal of the season. They had previously been outscored 5-0 after halftime before Almeida’s blast.
• Simon Fraser finds themselves tied for second place in the GNAC at 3-1 after going 2-10 in 2019. They have a chance to prove their conference bona fides when they travel to No. 25 Seattle Pacific on Thursday, then play at Montana State Billings on Saturday.

WESTERN OREGON
• Western Oregon got a signature win on Thursday, using a 96th-minute overtime game-winner to hand No. 7 Seattle Pacific its first loss of the season. On Saturday, the Wolves battled to a 1-1 draw with Montana State Billings.
 • Western Oregon swept the GNAC Player of the Week awards, as the stars of the upset win over the Falcons were recognized. Freshman midfielder Lilly Nowatzke won Offensive Player of the Week after getting on the end of sophomore Chloe Smith’s cross for the golden goal against SPU.
• Sophomore goalkeeper Emily Wheeler won the Defensive Player of the Week award by making her first two starts of the season count. Against SPU, Wheeler shut out a league-best and top-10 national offense and then made key second half saves to allow the Wolves to equalize and salvage a draw with MSUB. Wheeler’s 0.61 goals against average is third in the GNAC.
• The Wolves had five shots on goal to the Falcons’ four. It’s the only time this season Seattle Pacific allowed an opponent to put more shots on target.
• Forward Piper Matson scored her second goal of the year against MSUB, equalizing the match unassisted in the 52nd minute. Matson and freshman defender Jada Foster each have two goals to lead the Wolves. Matson also leads the team in points with five.
• Smith leads the team in assists (two) and shots (21), ranking fifth in the GNAC in the latter category.
• The Wolves will seek to continue to climb the conference standings with road matches against Central Washington and Northwest Nazarene, the two teams below them in the table.

WESTERN WASHINGTON
• Western Washington trounced Central Washington 6-0 on Thursday before pulling out a 1-0 win against Northwest Nazarene on Saturday. The Vikings have yet to drop points in conference play and remain unbeaten overall.
• Western Washington practically lived inside the Wildcats’ half, sending a GNAC season-high 37 shots at the CWU net.
• Senior forward Jenna Killman scored two goals to pace the Vikings attack against Central, one on either side of halftime. Freshman Sophie Bearden Croft also scored in the first half, while Grace Eversaul, Ellie Busik and Zola Carbone all found the net in the second half.
• After Bearden Croft, Busik and Carbone scored for the first time, the Vikings now have had ten different players score a goal this season, ahead of Seattle Pacific (nine) and Northwest Nazarene (eight).
• Eversaul also scored the winner against Northwest Nazarene off an assist from Tera Ziemer. Ziemer is tied with three SPU players for the conference lead with four goals, and her 10 total points are level with SPU’s AJ DePinto.
• Eversaul, Killman and MSUB’s Liberty Palmer are behind the top four with three goals. Eversaul and Killman fired 13 shots apiece this week, six more than any other GNAC player.
• Sophomores Estera Levinte and Makenzie Burks are among five players who rank second in the GNAC with three assists.
• Goalkeeper Natalie Dierickx ranks second in the GNAC in goals against average and save percentage, and is tied for first in total shutouts.
• The Vikings rose four spots to No. 6 in the United Soccer Coaches National Poll. They also reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the West Region Poll from Seattle Pacific, who had held it for a week.
• The Vikings will get to meet Seattle Pacific head-to-head on Saturday at Interbay Stadium, but can’t overlook a road match with Montana State Billings on Thursday.

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