GNAC Teams Ready For Championships' Semifinals
Western Washington freshman Dayana Diaz leads her top-seeded Vikings into Portland for this week's GNAC Championships.
Western Washington freshman Dayana Diaz leads her top-seeded Vikings into Portland for this week's GNAC Championships.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018


No matter what way you draw it up, every team in the 2018 GNAC Women’s Soccer Championships has something to prove.

After winning last year’s tournament in overtime and claiming the regular-season title on the final day of the season, Western Washington would love nothing more than to assure its return to the NCAA Division II Championships with a pair of victories.

No. 2 Concordia, meanwhile, would like to see the results fall their way in its quest to return to the NCAA playoffs. The Cavaliers lost last year’s tournament final on Gabriela Pelogi’s goal in the 105th minute of double-overtime and then missed out on a share of this year’s regular-season title thanks to a 1-1 tie with Seattle Pacific on Saturday.

No. 3 seed Seattle Pacific is looking to return to the NCAA postseason after seeing its string of 14 straight appearances snapped last year. The No. 4 seed, Simon Fraser, is back in the championships after a year’s absence and enters looking for its first GNAC postseason victory.

Western Washington, qualified for the seventh time in the championship’s seven years and the fifth time as the No. 1 seed, claimed the top seed after posting a 10-1-1 record in conference action. The only loss was suffered in its first GNAC match, coming by one goal to Concordia at Tuominen Yard.

Forwards Gabriela Pelogi and Dayana Diaz dominated in 2018, tallying seven goals and 15 points to lead their team. Junior Liv Larson has also shined and is tied for third in the conference with eight assists. The WWU offense combined for 37 goals, ranking third in the GNAC.

A devotion to defense also paid off this season as Western Washington has only allowed a GNAC-leading eight goals. Goalkeeper Natalie Dierickx recorded a 0.41 goals against average, ranking her at No. 12 nationally. Travis Connell’s team is averaging 2.06 goals per game while giving up just 0.44 per match, ranking the Vikings 10th in Division II. The Vikings enter postseason play on a six-match winning streak and have not lost a match since their conference opener.

Concordia, the No. 2 seed, has outscored its opponents 24-6 in conference play while recording seven shutouts, which is second in the league. They’ve been carried all year by a sensational defense, one that ranks second in the GNAC with a 0.54 goals against average. Keeper Hailey Asato has shined in goal since taking over for the injured Rose Hauser, allowing just four goals while recording 30 saves in her 10 appearances.

Senior Karlie Hurley (started all 16 matches) has paced the field players on defense, while defender McKenna Stocker and midfielder Kasey Ames have garnered GNAC Women’s Soccer Defensive Player of the Week honors. Upperclassmen Kyra Radcliffe and Gabrielle Ewing have each scored seven goals while forward Sydney Van Steenberge has five on the year.

Concordia ranks second in the GNAC in goals allowed (9) and shutouts (9). The team lost just once in 2018, compiling a sensational 12-1-3 record on the road to postseason action.

Seattle Pacific is competing in the tournament for the seventh time in the event’s seven-year history. The Falcons enter the championships having won four of their final five regular season matches, the lone outlier coming in that 1-1 draw at Concordia.

Sophomore Sophia Chilczuk leads the team with eight goals. Her 19 points on the season is tied for third in the conference and is followed closely by midfielder Julia DeVere’s 15 (seven assists, four goals). DeVere was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Week twice in 2018, including after the last week of the regular season. In goal, freshman Riley Travis is second in the league with 4.5 saves per match and has recorded five shutouts.

The club is slotted near the top of nearly all the conference’s offensive statistical categories, including goals (No. 2 at 38), points (No. 2 with 114) and assists (No. 2 at 38). Thursday’s semifinal match will be the Falcons’ second meeting with Concordia in five days.

Simon Fraser returns to the championships for the first time since 2016. The Clan bounced back in fine fashion from last year’s 7-9 record, posting a 10-5-1 mark in 2018. Midfielder Jenna-lee Baxter and forward Emma Pringle leads the offense with 11 goals apiece, while seniors Katelyn Erhardsen and Christina Dickson have each tallied four. Baxter is the team-leader in points, sitting at 32 as postseason play begins.

Junior Carli Grosso has led a strong SFU defense while appearing in all of her team’s 16 matches. The club rode a red-hot start to league play to clinch its championships appearance, winning seven of its first nine GNAC matches. Simon Fraser outscored its opponents 22-5 in that stretch.

The No. 1 seeded Vikings will play fourth-seeded Simon Fraser in Thursday’s first semifinal match at 4 p.m. The two teams met just once in the regular season as WWU edged the Clan for a 1-0 victory in Bellingham.

The second-seeded hosts will play No. 3 Seattle Pacific in the second semifinal at 7 p.m. Concordia will be appearing in its third GNAC Championships, having lost in double overtime of the final a year ago. The clubs met twice in 2018, with the Cavaliers winning 1-0 in Seattle before playing to a 1-1 draw in Portland.

Saturday’s championship match is set for 3:30 p.m. at Tuominen Yard. The winner will receive the GNAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Championships.

Jenna-lee Baxter, Simon Fraser
M • 5-3 • Senior • Surrey, B.C.

Baxter netted another hat trick for the Clan on four shots in Thursday’s 5-0 shutout at Montana State Billings. She collected two goals in the first half and netted the third off Emma Pringle’s assist in the 47th minute. Baxter also had an assist in the match. Baxter then launched five shots, one on goal, in Saturday’s loss at Northwest Nazarene.

Also Nominated: Kyra Radcliffe (CU), Amber Whitmore (WOU), Zoe Milburn (WWU).

Julia DeVere, Seattle Pacific
M • 5-3 • Senior • Bellingham, Wash.

DeVere keyed the Seattle Pacific defense that surrendered just one goal as the Falcons beat Central Washington on Tuesday, 3-0, and tied Concordia on Saturday, 1-1, keeping the Cavaliers from a share of the GNAC regular-season championship. DeVere had a pair of assists against the Wildcats as SPU limited the Wildcats to three shots on goal. DeVere had the game-tying goal in the 79th minute at Concordia as the defense allowed just one goal on 19 shots.

Also Nominated: McKenna Stocker (CU), Jacky Beristain (WOU), Taylor Hallquist (WWU).


• Concordia finished last week with a 1-0-1 mark, recording a 3-1 victory against Saint Martin’s before playing Seattle Pacific to a 1-1 draw.
• Forward Kyra Radcliffe led the Cavaliers, tallying half of her team’s four goals on the week. Radcliffe leads the team in points with 19 on seven goals at the completion of regular season play.
• Tied at the top of the CU goals list is midfielder Gabrielle Ewing. The senior has recorded seven goals to go along with four assists.
• In the latest edition of the United Soccer Coaches Division II Coaches Poll, Concordia comes in ranked at No. 17. The Cavaliers are slotted at No. 3 in both the United Soccer Coaches West Region poll.
• In just its fourth year as a conference member, Concordia is heading back to the GNAC Championships for a third time. Grant Landy’s team will be looking for its first-ever Championships title.
• Concordia will host No. 3 seed Seattle Pacific in its semifinal match on Thursday night. The contest will be a rematch of Saturday’s regular season finale, which resulted in a double overtime draw at Tuominen Yard.

• Seattle Pacific tallied four points in its final two matches of the regular season, shutting out Central Washington in a 3-0 decision before drawing with Concordia.
• The Falcons explosive offensive attack was a balanced one as four different players combined to score the team’s four goals.   
• Sophomore Sophia Chilczuk leads the team in goals (8) and points (19) through 18 matches. Senior Julia DeVere is second on the points list at 15.
• DeVere was named the GNAC Defensive Player of the Year on Tuesday, spearheading an SPU defense that resulted in the team finishing third in the conference in goals allowed (15), goals against average (0.81) and shutouts (eight). In addition, the midfielder enters the GNAC Championships as the reigning Defensive Player of the Week.
• In the latest edition of the United Soccer Coaches West Region Poll, the Falcons come in ranked No. 7.
• Seattle Pacific returns to the pitch on Thursday, facing No. 2 seed Concordia in its GNAC Championships semifinals. It is the second meeting with the Cavaliers in five days. 

• Simon Fraser went 1-1 last week, the victory coming in grand fashion as the Clan went on the road and shutout Montana State Billings, 5-0.
• Midfielder Jenna-lee Baxter recorded a hat trick in the victory against the Yellowjackets, while goalkeeper Nicole Anderson kept her fourth clean sheet in her last five matches. Baxter’s efforts earned her GNAC Offensive Player of the Week honors, her second time receiving the award in the past three weeks.
• Recording standout performances on a nightly basis in 2018, Baxter’s consistency was awarded with the conference’s Player of the Year award. The senior finished the regular season with a league-leading 2.0 points per match.
• Baxter wasn’t the only Simon Fraser representative on the superlatives list. Head coach Annie Hamel was named the GNAC Coach of the Year after guiding the Clan to a 10-5-1 record and their highest finish since 2010
• In the latest edition of the United Soccer Coaches West Region Poll, SFU comes in ranked No.10.
• The team is preparing for Thursday’s semifinal against No. 6 and top-seeded Western Washington. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. on Thursday in Portland.

• Western Washington finished the ninth week of play with another perfect 2-0 record.
• The Vikings tallied two goals in each victory, shutting out Northwest Nazarene 2-0 before edging Montana State Billings for a 2-1 win. The victory in Billings clinched a regular-season title for WWU.
• Senior Gabriela Pelogi and freshman Dayana Diaz lead the team with 15 points and seven goals to date. Sophomore Zoe Milburn is the next highest at 13 points.
• Diaz received the conference’s Freshman of the Year award on Tuesday. She was joined on the superlatives list by goalkeeper Natalie Dierickx, who garnered Newcomer of the Year honors. The Colorado State transfer finished the regular season inside the top-20 nationally in both goals against average (0.41) and save percentage (.875).
• No program put more players on the GNAC first team than Western Washington this season (five).
• In the latest edition of the United Soccer Coaches Division II Coaches Poll, Western Washington comes in ranked at No. 6. The team is ranked No. 1 in the United Soccer Coaches West Region poll.
• The Vikings will lift the lid on the GNAC Championships when they battle No. 4 Simon Fraser on Thursday afternoon. The team will be looking to defend its Championships title from one year ago.