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SFU Shutout Streak Reaches Four, Team Reaches First
Bjorn Borren's first goal of the season sealed a fourth straight victory for Simon Fraser over Saint Martin's.
Bjorn Borren's first goal of the season sealed a fourth straight victory for Simon Fraser over Saint Martin's.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Simon Fraser, led by goalkeeper and two-time reigning GNAC Defensive Player of the Week Aidan Bain, continued its defensive efforts with their third and fourth consecutive shutout wins, pushing aside Northwest Nazarene 1-0 on Thursday and Saint Martin’s 2-0 on Saturday. The team’s four-game win streak and Bain’s 360-minute scoreless streak have catapulted Simon Fraser to the top of the GNAC standings, a feat that had been familiar in recent seasons but had yet to happen this year.

Simon Fraser and Western Washington each have a 5-2 GNAC record for 15 points. Both leapfrogged No. 18 Seattle Pacific, who drew 1-1 at Montana State Billings in their only match of the week and sit at 13 points with a 4-1-1 conference record. Niko Papakyriakopoulos provided the heroics in the NNU win, punching home a free kick in the 89th minute to lift SFU to a 1-0 victory. Papakyriakopoulos earned the GNAC Offensive Player of the Week award for his dramatic winner in a week where no GNAC player had multiple goals.  

Neither of the conference’s leading goalscorers, SPU’s Alex Mejia and MSUB’s Halil Yilmaz, could find the net when their two teams clashed Saturday. Instead, Jose Benavides put the Falcons ahead on his first shot on goal of the season, while the Yellowjackets relied on freshman defender Mathias Kjolner to head home a corner kick in the 81st minute to equalize.

With Northwest Nazarene dropping back after an 0-2 week, it is set up as a three-team race for the GNAC championship. If Seattle Pacific wants to bounce back from dropping points to the Yellowjackets, they will have to do it against their title rivals head-to-head. The Falcons host Simon Fraser on Thursday and Western Washington on Saturday in matches that could very well put one team in the driver’s seat for the GNAC crown. In between, MSUB will have the opportunity to steal points from the other two frontrunners after doing so against SPU, facing both teams in inverse order as the Falcons.

Seattle Pacific came in at No. 10 while Simon Fraser was No. 12 in the NCAA’s first Super Region 4 rankings. The NCAA will select 10 teams from the Super Region to participate in the postseason.

GNAC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

OFFENSE
Niko Papakyriakopoulos, Simon Fraser
D • 5-11 • Sophomore • New Westminster, B.C.
Papakyriakopoulos played in all 180 minutes of Simon Fraser’s 2-0 week and provided the game-winning goal in the 89th minute of a 1-0 shutout of Northwest Nazarene on a free kick. He has two goals this season.

Also Nominated: Mathias Kjolner (MSUB), Jason Fairhurst (SMU), Drew Farnsworth (WWU)

DEFENSE
Aidan Bain, Simon Fraser
GK • 6-3 • Senior • Port Coquitlam, B.C.
Bain notched his sixth and seventh shutouts of the season to win the GNAC defensive weekly award for the second consecutive week. Bain made three saves over a 1-0 win over Northwest Nazarene and a 2-0 win over Saint Martin’s. He currently has a 360-minute scoreless streak.

Also Nominated: Luca Battistotti (MSUB), Jose Marquez (SMU), Brandon Locke (WWU)

AROUND THE GNAC

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS
• Montana State Billings rallied for a crucial point against the conference’s ranked team, tying 1-1 with then-No. 14 Seattle Pacific 1-1 on Saturday in their only match of the week.
• Freshman defender Mathias Kjolner equalized in the 81st minute by heading in a corner kick from Marvin Putu. It was Kjolner’s first career goal. Putu is tied for the GNAC lead with five assists and ranks 20th in Division II with 0.56 assists per match.
Halil Yilmaz recorded three shots on goal against the Falcons. He ranks second in the GNAC and tied for 11th in Division II with 2.08 shots on goal per match. Yilmaz remains second in the GNAC in goals (nine), points (19) and shots (46).
• Goalkeeper Connor Trapp received his first start of the season against SPU and made four saves in 110 minutes.
• If fifth-year senior defender Luca Battistotti appears in all four of MSUB’s remaining matches, he will become the program’s all-time leader in games played with 73. He has appeared in 69 of a possible 71 matches since 2017.
• Montana State Billings has two home matches this week against the conference leaders, taking on Western Washington on Thursday and Simon Fraser on Saturday.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE
• Northwest Nazarene fell back of the pack in the GNAC race, losing 1-0 twice to Simon Fraser on Thursday and Western Washington on Saturday. The Nighthawks entered the week tied with both teams for second, but now sit fourth.
• Goalkeeper Sawyer Price kept NNU in it against Simon Fraser. Price made 10 saves, the second-highest single-game total in the GNAC this season, to preserve a scoreless tie before being beaten by a stunning free kick in the 89th minute. Against Western Washington, Price conceded a ninth-minute goal but locked down the Vikings the rest of the way, making three saves.
Lukas Juodkinaitis led the way with three shots, including one of NNU’s two on target, against Western Washington. Juodkinaitis leads the team and ranks seventh in the GNAC with nine points.
Sebastian Cotrau and Juodkinaitis have four goals each to lead the team and tie for seventh in the GNAC.
• Never count the Nighthawks out. Northwest Nazarene has scored 14 of their 20 goals in the second half this season.
• The Nighthawks have one match this week, facing Saint Martin’s on the road on Saturday. NNU will look to avenge a 5-4 loss in the previous meeting.

SAINT MARTIN’S
• Saint Martin’s was unable to build momentum from their first GNAC win last week, falling 3-1 to Western Washington on Thursday and 2-0 to Simon Fraser on Saturday.
Jason Fairhurst continued his campaign as a one-man offensive wrecking crew for the Saints, scoring in the 88th minute against WWU. Fairhurst ranks fifth in the GNAC in points (14), tied for fifth in goals (five), tied for third in assists (four) and eighth in shots (28). No other Saint has more than four points or 14 shots.
Hunter Askland has done all he can this season in net for an embattled SMU defense that is conceding 3.64 goals per game. Askland leads the GNAC and ranks 50th in Division II with 57 saves. He leads the conference and ranks 45th in Division II with 4.38 saves per match.  
Ethan Jud, Caden Martin and Diego Andrade have two goals apiece for SMU while Jose Marquez and David Settle have each contributed two assists.  
• The Saints are fouling their opponents only 10.07 times per match, ranking second in the GNAC and 33rd in Division II.
• Saint Martin’s only plays once this week, battling Northwest Nazarene on Saturday. The Saints won the first match-up 5-4 in a game that featured four ties, three lead changes and nine goal-scorers.

SEATTLE PACIFIC
• Seattle Pacific lost the top spot in the GNAC standings by virtue of playing one match on Saturday and tying MSUB 1-1. The Falcons have 13 points, trailing Simon Fraser and Western Washington by two.
• The Falcons thought they had a breakthrough when senior midfielder Jose Benavides tallied his first goal of the season in the 62nd minute, but MSUB equalized nine minutes from full time. Benavides scored on his first shot on goal of the season.
Alex Mejia is tied for 13th in Division II with two points per match, 11th in goals per match (0.92), second in shots on goal per match (2.62) and tied for eighth in shot accuracy (63 percent of total shots on target).
• Mejia leads the GNAC in points with 26, while Alden Massey is tied for third with 15. Tyler Speer is tied for the league lead in assists with five, while Nik Reierson is tied for third with four.
• The Falcons fell four spots to No. 18 in the United Soccer Coaches Poll. The Falcons ranked No. 10 in the NCAA Super Region 4 Rankings. The NCAA will select 10 teams from Super Region 4 for the postseason.
• Seattle Pacific hosts Simon Fraser on Thursday and Western Washington on Saturday in a pair of contests with GNAC title implications.

SIMON FRASER
• Simon Fraser posted two more shutouts in a 1-0 Thursday win over Northwest Nazarene and a 2-0 Saturday win over Saint Martin’s. They are tied for first in the GNAC with Western Washington at 15 points.
• Aidan Bain won his second straight GNAC Defensive Player of the Week award and third overall by recording his sixth and seventh shutouts of the season and extending his 360-minute scoreless streak. He ranks 33rd in Division II and first among primary GNAC goalkeepers with a 0.91 goals against average and 22nd nationally with an .800 save percentage.
Niko Papakyriakopoulos earned the offensive weekly award by lifting SFU with an 89th-minute free kick goal to beat NNU.
• Against Saint Martin’s, Conrad Cheng opened the scoring just 46 seconds into the match off a feed from Justus Meier. In the 12th minute, junior midfielder Bjorn Borren tallied his first goal of the year off an intercepted pass.
• Simon Fraser ranks 12th in the NCAA Super Region 4 Rankings. The NCAA will select 10 teams from Super Region 4 for the postseason.
• Simon Fraser will travel to No. 18 SPU on Thursday and MSUB on Saturday.

WESTERN WASHINGTON
• Western Washington beat Saint Martin’s 3-1 on Thursday and Northwest Nazarene 1-0 on Saturday to pull into a tie with Simon Fraser for first in the GNAC standings.
 • The Vikings received goals from Drew Farnsworth, Eric Bunnell and Alex Whiting to open up a 3-0 lead against the Saints. Western Washington had 23 shots, the second-most by a team in the GNAC this season. Farnsworth ranks tied for third in the GNAC in goals (six), points (15) and is third in shots (37).
• Bunnell set up Teagan Eldridge for an early strike that held up against the Nighthawks. Farnsworth and Bunnell were the only GNAC players to record both a goal and an assist this week.
Brandon Locke recorded his second shutout of the season against NNU and leads the conference with an 0.79 goals against average.
• Western Washington faces Montana State Billings on Thursday and No. 18 Seattle Pacific on Saturday.


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