Undefeated NNU Leads Pack Into Week 2 of GNAC Play
Northwest Nazarene is the only remaining undefeated team in the GNAC after taking two wins on the road to open conference play last week. | Photo by Jacob Thompson/CWU Athletics
Northwest Nazarene is the only remaining undefeated team in the GNAC after taking two wins on the road to open conference play last week. | Photo by Jacob Thompson/CWU Athletics

Tuesday, September 26, 2023
by Thomas Lal

PORTLAND, Ore. – The second week of conference play sees six of the GNAC women’s soccer teams come into the week with a winning percentage north of .500, including undefeated Northwest Nazarene.

Last week’s matches saw six shutouts as defense proved to be critical. There was no shortage of offense on display either, as conference teams combined for 18 goals. Seven of those goals were scored by Seattle Pacific in a historic 7-0 win over Montana State Billings that marked the 21st time in GNAC history that a team has had six unique goal-scorers in one match.

This week sees another full schedule of action that features Northwest Nazarene at home for the first time this season and Simon Fraser capping off a six-game stretch on the road. Central Washington will host matches against Montana State Billings and Seattle Pacific while Saint Martins and Western Oregon both host Western Washington and Simon Fraser.


This Week's Conference Slate - Sept. 28-30
  Thursday, Sept. 28
Saturday, Sept. 30
Host Opponent Time Opponent Time
CWU MSUB 7 p.m. SPU 7 p.m.
NNU  SPU 7 p.m. MSUB 11 a.m.
SMU WWU 3 p.m. SFU 1 p.m.
WOU SFU 3 p.m. WWU 2 p.m.

View the complete 2023 GNAC women’s soccer schedule online here.

This Week's Storylines

Northwest Nazarene is the only remaining undefeated team in the conference after taking a pair of road wins over Central Washington, 2-0, on Thursday and No. 13 Western Oregon, 3-2, on Saturday. The Nighthawks own a 4-0-2 record and sit atop the GNAC standings with six points after being the only team to open the conference slate with two wins. The shutout win over CWU was NNU’s fourth shutout of the season while the Nighthawks victory over Western Oregon snapped the Wolves’ own unbeaten streak.

The Nighthawks will return home for the first time this season as they host Seattle Pacific (4-2-1, 1-0-1 GNAC) on Thursday and Montana State Billings (1-3-1, 0-2-0 GNAC) on Saturday. Reigning GNAC Offensive Player of the Week Nicole Lewis will be leading the charge for NNU after scoring two goals last week. The freshman midfielder from American Fork, Utah leads the team and ranks third in the GNAC with eight points through six games. She also leads NNU and ranks third in the conference with three goals.  

The last time NNU was in action for a counting match at home was for the semifinals of the 2022 GNAC Women’s Soccer Championships. The Nighthawks lost that match to eventual Division II champion Western Washington, 1-0, but it was their only loss on home soil all season. Northwest Nazarene went 1-1-0 against SPU and 2-0-0 against MSUB in 2022.

IT’S A CLEAN SHEET CONFERENCE: Six of last week’s eight matches resulted in a shutout, including all four games on the opening day of GNAC play. Thursday saw three teams earn clean sheets on the road with the notable exception being Seattle Pacific’s 7-0 win at home over Montana State Billings. On Saturday, both Simon Fraser and Saint Martin’s earned shutout wins over MSUB and Central Washington, respectively.

Among Division II leaders, Simon Fraser ranks fourth with a .750 shutout percentage through four matches while Northwest Nazarene ranks 18th with a .667 shutout percentage. Both the Red Leafs and the Nighthawks lead the conference and are tied for 20th in the division with a .500 goals against average.

WESTERN WATERS: Western Washington (3-2-2, 1-0-1 GNAC) began its conference title defense as one of three teams to open GNAC play undefeated last week. The Vikings took a 2-0 win over Simon Fraser last Thursday at home and followed it up with a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Seattle Pacific on Saturday.

The Vikings will be back on the road this week, facing Saint Martin’s (3-2-1, 1-1-0 GNAC) on Thursday and then No. 13  Western Oregon (4-1-1, 1-1-0 GNAC) on Saturday. The Vikings are 1-2-1 on the road this season but look to have found their goal-scoring form early in the conference slate. Western Washington’s three goals last week nearly doubled its non-conference goal total with perhaps the most valuable tally coming from sophomore midfielder/forward Morgan Manalili to tie the match against SPU in the 83rd minute.

Saturday’s match could very well end with a clean sheet for one side as Saint Martin’s comes into the week tied for third in the conference with three shutouts while Western Washington comes in tied for the GNAC lead with four. Both the Saints and the Vikings have rolled with a goalkeeping tandem early in the season. Flavia Burrell and Ali Campigotto have split SMU’s six starts evenly while reigning GNAC Defensive Player of the Week Claire Henninger has made five starts for WWU and Abigail Trengove two.

Western Oregon (4-1-1, 1-1-0 GNAC) will cap off its three-match homestand by hosting Simon Fraser (2-1-1, 1-1-0 GNAC) on Thursday and Western Washington on Saturday. The Wolves maintained their form as one of the top offensive teams in the conference by scoring four goals in two matches last week. They took a 2-0 win at Saint Martin’s last Thursday before falling 3-2 to Northwest Nazarene last Saturday.

Western Oregon ranks second in the conference with nine goals and 25 total points. The Wolves have also been one of the best passing teams in the GNAC and rank third with seven assists. Senior forward Chloe Smith leads WOU and the conference with 11 points through six games courtesy of five goals and an assist. Her five goals also lead the GNAC and rank 18th in Division II.

IN THE ‘BURG: After splitting time last week at home and on the road with a 2-0 loss to Northwest Nazarene in Lacey and a 1-0 loss at Saint Martin’s, Central Washington (1-6-0, 0-2-0 GNAC) will return home to host a pair of games against Montana State Billings (1-3-1, 0-2-0 GNAC) on Thursday and Seattle Pacific (4-2-1, 1-0-1 GNAC) on Saturday.

Both the Wildcats and the Yellowjackets are looking for their first goals of the conference slate heading into Thursday’s contest. Sophomore midfielder Paige Savage leads CWU this year with four points on two goals and has started all six of Central Washington’s matches. Montana State Billings has been led by freshman midfielder Kaari Little and junior defender Sunny Bennion with a goal and an assist each. Central Washington’s defense will also have to keep an eye on MSUB forward Jackie Sharpe who ranks second in the GNAC with 3.60 shots per game and is still looking for her first point this season.

Saturday will see Seattle Pacific take to the field after a week where the Falcons netted a staggering eight goals in two matches. The Falcons scored most of those goals in a stunning 7-0 win over MSUB last Thursday with six different players finding the back of the net and the final marker coming via an own goal. They added one more goal in a 1-1 draw with Western Washington.

 Senior forward Jacqueline Blakeley scored in both games for SPU last week and added an assist against MSUB. Blakeley continues to lead the team and ranks second in the GNAC with nine points through seven matches. She also ranks third in the conference with 1.29 points per game.

RED LEAFS ON THE ROAD: Simon Fraser (2-1-1, 1-1-0 GNAC) comes into the second week of conference play after taking a 2-0 loss to Western Washington last Thursday and bouncing back for a 1-0 win over Montana State Billings on Saturday. Every match the Red Leafs have played in has resulted in a shutout, including both of their 1-0 wins and a 0-0 draw against Dominican on Sept., 1.

This week, Simon Fraser caps off a six-game stint on the road by facing Western Oregon on Thursday in Monmouth and Saint Martin’s on Saturday in Lacey. The Red Leafs had the shortest non-conference schedule of any team in the GNAC, but that didn’t stop freshman forward Kiera Scott from scoring the first goal of her collegiate career against MSUB to secure the 1-0 victory in the 51st minute. Defensively, sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Loewen has started every match for SFU and leads the GNAC while ranking 13th in Division II with a .900 save percentage.

Player to Watch


Moira MacKay, Seattle Pacific

MacKay has proved to be a solid contributor for the Falcons as they kick off the conference slate. The sophomore forward has appeared in every match for SPU this season and has already doubled her goal total from last season with two tallies in seven matches. MacKay earned the first start of her collegiate career last week and netted her second goal of the season in Seattle Pacific’s 7-0 win over Montana State Billings at home.

MacKay ranks fourth for the Falcons with four points on two goals, both game-winners. She is also tied for fourth in the GNAC in goals and sixth in points. MacKay is tied for the conference lead and 14th in Division II with her two game-winning goals.



National Rankings

The fourth United Soccer Coaches Division II rankings of the season came out on Sept. 26 with Western Oregon (4-1-1, 1-1-0 GNAC) slipping out of the top 25 after splitting its week with a 2-0 win at Saint Martin’s and falling 3-2 to Northwest Nazarene in Monmouth. The Wolves continue to receive votes in the poll along with the Nighthawks (4-0-2, 2-0-0 GNAC), who are the only remaining undefeated team in the conference. The poll marks the first time NNU has received votes since the preseason.

Poll Team 1 Team 2 Team 3
Preseason 1. WWU RV NNU RV SPU
Sept. 5 1. WWU    
Sept. 12 15. WOU RV WWU  
Sept. 19 13. WOU    
Sept. 26 RV NNU RV WOU  
GNAC Women's Soccer In The NCAA Statistical National Rankings

Through games on Sept. 25.

Team Rankings (Top-30)

Assists Per Game: 30. SPU, 1.71
Corner Kicks Per Game: 29. SMU, 6.33
Goals Against Average: 20. NNU, .500; 20. SFU, .500
Penalty Kicks: 1. WOU, 1.000; 1. WWU, 1.000
Points Per Game: 30. SPU, 6.57
Save Percentage: 12. SFU, .900; 25. NNU, .864
Scoring Offense: 24. SPU, 2.43
Shutout Percentage: 4. SFU, .750; 18. NNU, .667
Assists: 28. SPU, 12
Goals: 26. SPU, 17
Points: 30. SPU, 46
Won-Lost-Tied Percentage: 25. NNU, .833

Individual Rankings (Top-30)

Assists Per Game: 20. Sophie Beadle, SPU, .570
Game-Winning Goals: 14. Madison Grande, NNU, 2; 14. Nicole Lewis, NNU, 2; 14. Moira McKay, SPU, 2; 14. Chloe Smith, WOU, 2
Goals Against Average: 25. Bailey Blancett, NNU, .500; 25. Sarah Loewen, SFU, .500
Goals Per Game: 18. Chloe Smith, WOU, .830
Penalty Kicks: 1. Gracen Crosby, WWU, 1.000; 1. Raeanne Jones, WOU, 1.000, 1.000; 1. Chloe Smith, WOU, 1.000
Points Per Game: 27. Chloe Smith, WOU, 1.83
Save Percentage: 13. Sarah Loewen, SFU, .900
Saves Per Game: 26. Kassandra Jaggard, CWU, 5.75
Shutouts: 8. Bailey Blancett, NNU, 4
Assists: 12. Sophie Beadle, SPU, 4
Goals: 18. Chloe Smith, WOU, 5

2023 GNAC Women's Soccer Players of the Week
Date Offensive Player of the Week Defensive Player of the Week
Sept. 5 Chloe Smith, Western Oregon Sarah Loewen, Simon Fraser
Sept. 11 Chloe Smith, Western Oregon Sophia Pierce, Western Oregon
Sept. 18 Taylor Krueger, Seattle Pacific Mercedes Cullen, Seattle Pacific
Sept. 25 Nicole Lewis, Northwest Nazarene Claire Henninger, Western Washington

Sept. 25 GNAC Women's Soccer Players of the Week

Offensive: Nicole Lewis, Northwest Nazarene

Lewis sparked the Nighthawks to a pair of road victories last week, scoring in each game to help her team claim six points and remain undefeated. Lewis had the opening goal in NNU’s 2-0 victory over Central Washington on Thursday before tying the score at 2-2 in the 3-2 win at No. 13 Western Oregon on Saturday. Lewis upped her season goal tally to three, which ranks her third in the conference. This is Lewis’s first career player of the week award.

Also Nominated: Bri Yamaha, SMU; Jacqueline Blakeley, SPU; Kiera Scott, SFU; Chloe Smith, WOU; Morgan Manalili, WWU.

Defensive: Claire Henninger, Western Washington

Henninger came up huge in the Vikings’ three matches last week, racking up 10 total saves to help her team go undefeated. The veteran shot-stopper started her week with three denials in a 0-0 draw against Sonoma State last Monday to complete her second shutout of the season. After helping WWU see out a 2-0 result against Simon Fraser on Thursday, Henninger delivered her biggest effort of the young season in a crucial road match at Seattle Pacific on Saturday. Facing a season-high 18 shots, Henninger made a season-high six saves including multiple diving stops to help the Vikings to a 1-1 draw. This is Henninger’s second career player of the week award, after she earned it on Oct. 24, 2022.

Also Nominated: Makayla Roggow, NNU; Janine Biava, SMU; Mercedes Cullen, SPU; Sarah Loewen, SFU.

2023 GNAC Women's Soccer Championships

The 2023 GNAC Women's Soccer Championships will be held Nov. 9-11 at Tomlinson Stadium on the campus of Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Wash. The top four teams in the final GNAC regular-season standings will advance to the single-elimination tournament.