Falcons Lead Three GNAC Squads In Top 25 Preseason Poll
Seattle Pacific's Chloe Gellhaus was named the 2019 GNAC Freshman of the Year after she finished the season with eight goals, one assist and 17 points.
Seattle Pacific's Chloe Gellhaus was named the 2019 GNAC Freshman of the Year after she finished the season with eight goals, one assist and 17 points.

Friday, August 6, 2021

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Three of the top teams in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference landed on the United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division II Women’s Preseason Poll, released on Wednesday.

Seattle Pacific enters its 2021 campaign ranked No. 5. Northwest Nazarene enters ranked No. 11 while Western Washington, the defending GNAC champion, rounds out the conference field tied for No. 25.

Seattle Pacific finished the 2019 season in second place with a 9-3-0 conference record (12-8-0 overall) under head coach Arby Busey. The Falcons had a productive COVID-shifted season in 2020-21, going 8-0-1 with six wins over GNAC opponents. They scored at least four goals in all nine of their matches. The Falcons’ high-scoring offense led the conference with 39 goals, 35 assists, 113 points and 209 shots.

Returning for SPU is senior forward Sophia Chilczuk. A two-time First Team All-GNAC selection, Chilczuk led all GNAC players in every major offensive category. She led the conference with 10 goals, 28 points and 4.75 shots per game and was tied for first with eight assists. Chilczuk scored a goal in seven of her eight matches, including three straight two-goal performances to open the season.

Also returning for the Falcons are senior midfielder Claire Neder and junior midfielder Chloe Gellhaus. An Honorable Mention All-GNAC selection in 2019, Neder finished the 2020-21 season ranked tied for first with Chilczuk with 38 shots and was second in goals (eight) and points (21). Gellhaus, the 2019 GNAC Freshman of the Year, notched six goals and dished out three assists in 2020-21.

After finishing the 2019 season in seventh place at 3-7-2 (6-10-2 overall), Northwest Nazarene turned things around to complete a perfect 11-0-0 season in 2020-21, which included seven shutouts.

Head coach Mary Ybarguen’s Nighthawks return nine starters, including senior midfielder McKenzie Buell, who finished the 2020-21 season ranked third among GNAC players with seven assists and 19 points and tied for fourth with six goals. Buell was named the United Soccer Coaches Division II Women’s Soccer National Player of the Week for her three-assist performance in a 4-0 shutout of Western Oregon on Mar. 29.

Junior goalkeeper Alexis Montoya also returns to anchor the Northwest Nazarene defense. Montoya finished 2020-21 with a 10-0-0 record, a 0.41 goals against average and six shutouts. She was named the GNAC Defensive Player of the Week three times.

Western Washington went 23-3-0 with a perfect 12-0-0 conference mark under head coach Travis Connell in 2019. The Vikings claimed their seventh regular-season title in eight years and won the GNAC Championships before going on an incredible postseason run that ended with a thrilling 1-0 double-overtime loss to Grand Valley State in the NCAA Division II title match.

The Vikings went 4-1-2 in the COVID-shifted 2020-21 season. All four wins came against conference foes. Looking to lead the Vikings back to the top of the conference are senior midfielder Grace Eversaul and senior goalkeeper Natalie Dierickx.

A two-time First Team All-GNAC selection, Eversaul totaled eight goals, five assists and 21 points in 2019. She scored one goal in 2020-21. Dierickx is also a two-time first-team selection and was named a First Team All-American by the United Soccer Coaches in 2019. She went 3-0-0 in goal for the Vikings in 2020-21 with 10 saves and a 0.67 goals against average.

Northwest Nazarene and Western Washington both open their 2021 seasons with home exhibition matches on Aug. 19. The Nighthawks will host Spokane Community College while the Vikings will host Peninsula College. Seattle Pacific will open its season at Division III Pacific Lutheran on Aug. 20.