2009 Preview: Western Washington unanimous pick to repeat
Aug. 20, 2009
SPOKANE, Wash. - All but one of last year's Top 10 scorers and all five starting goalkeepers return this fall for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference's men's soccer teams.
Defending champion Western Washington took the biggest graduation hit losing midfielder Matt Pele and forward Sam Vejo along with three other starters.
Pele was the GNAC Player-of-the-Year and earned NSCAA second team All-America honors. Vejo, meanwhile, ranked second in the conference in scoring with 39 points (18 goals, 3 assists).
Still, the Vikings are a unanimous pick to repeat at conference champions. WWU received all five first-place votes and outpointed Seattle Pacific 25 to 17 1/2 in the GNAC Coaches pre-season poll.
Montana State Billings finished third in the balloting, while Saint Martin's edged Northwest Nazarene 9 1/2 to 7 1/2 points to earn fourth.
"We have a very new team this year with a lot of young players," said WWU coach Travis Connell (11th year, 94-87-11), the GNAC Coach of the Year each of the last two seasons.
"It's important for us to learn about each other and our tendencies so that we are in sync on the field. We have a lot of depth and talent at every position; finding a new chemistry is the big challenge."
While they might be young (only four seniors are on the roster), the Vikings do return 18 letter winners and four all-stars including forward Gibson Bardsley (5-11, Jr., Fall City, WA - Mount Si) and goalkeeper Cameron Copps-Tilley (6-1, Sr., Vancouver, WA - Fort Vancouver).
Both Bardsley, who ranked sixth in the GNAC in scoring with 18 points (7 goals, 4 assists) and Copps-Tilley, who ranked second in goals against average (1.13) and had six shutouts, were first team all-star selections.
"Cameron anchors our defense and his athleticism and competitive leadership make him vital to our success," Connell said. "Gibson is our leading returning scorer. His speed and ability to score make him difficult to stop."
Jepson had two goals and two assists in addition to his defensive contributions. Ricci came off the bench in 10 of WWU's 19 games and contributed three goals and five assists.
Another 2008 reserve was midfielder Oscar Jimenez (5-8, So., Mount Vernon, WA), who finished eighth in the conference in scoring with 15 points (5 goals, 5 assists).
Also back are midfield starters Tyler Bjork (5-10, So., Kirkland, WA - Juanita) and Mitch Barrows (5-11, Sr., Ferndale, WA). Bjork ranked 10th in the GNAC in scoring with 14 points (5 goals, 4 assists).
Another returning player with starting experience is midfielder Sean Connor (5-10, So., Mount Vernon, WA), who redshirted at Gonzaga in 2007 and at WWU in 2008 after starting 13 games for the Vikings in 2006.
Seattle Pacific has a league-best five returning all-stars and is hoping to bounce back from its first losing season (6-10-3) in more than three decades.
Back to lead the Falcons are midfielders Alec Nelson (5-11, Sr., Lynnwood, WA - Meadowdale), Drew Williams (5-7, So., Bend, OR) and Tyler Schultz (5-11, So., Scottsdale, AZ - Pinnacle), forward Ryan Brand (5-10, So., Portland, OR - LaSalle Catholic) and defender Elliot Morton (6-4, So., Tacoma, WA - Bellarmine Prep).
Nelson, who scored 13 points (5 goals, 3 assists) and Morton were first team all-GNAC selections, while Williams (1 goal, 4 assists) was a second team pick. Brand (4 goals, 1 assists) and Schultz (4 goals, 1 assist) were honorable mention all-stars.
Other returning starters include midfielder Andy Wolverton (5-6, Jr., Portland, OR - Jesuit), defender Jordan Dettmer (5-11, Sr., Snohomish, WA) and goalkeeper Kaleb Kuehn (6-0, Jr., Marysville, WA - Pilchuck).
Wolverton netted three goals last season. Kuehn, meanwhile, recorded a 1.94 GAA to rank fourth in the conference.
Forward Sam Charles (6-4, Sr., Chiswell, England, Budmouth Tech), who is on pace to become the GNAC's all-time leading scorer, returns to lead Montana State Billings.
Charles has won back-to-back GNAC scoring titles, including last season when he had 44 points (19 goals, 6 assists).
His 85 career point total (38 goals, nine assists) is just eight off the GNAC record of 93 by Bobby McAlister of Seattle University (2002-05).
Including one season in the Frontier Conference, Charles has MSUB school records of 101 points and 45 goals.
Charles, who was a Daktronics honorable mention All-American, is one of six starters back for the Yellowjackets. Also back is goalkeeper Matt Mitchell (5-11, Jr., Thornton, CO - Northglenn), who led the GNAC in goals against average (1.06) in earning second team all-star honors.
The Yellowjackets also return forward Chris Andre (6-0, Jr., Billings, MT) who had one goal and five assists last season and midfielders Kyle Moriarty (6-1, Jr., Bozeman, MT), Jeremy DeHerrera (6-2, Sr., Kalispell, MT - Flathead) and Zach Yeager (5-9, Sr., Missoula, MT - North Idaho) from last year's starting unit.
Also back is midfielder Jarred Weisen (5-9, Jr., Great Falls, MT - Russell) who came off the bench in 10 of 18 appearances to contribute seven goals and four assists to rank fifth in the conference in scoring.
Among the key additions this fall for MSUB is Ryan Covey (6-3, Jr., Idaho Falls, ID), who played in 10 games in two seasons at Division I Central Connecticut.
Covey is expected to have an immediate impact. With strong ball passing ability, good technical skills and experience, he's not your typical first-year player.
Saint Martin's and Northwest Nazarene return the most letter winners and starters, respectively, among the GNAC's five teams.
The Saints return 20 veterans, nine of them starters from a team that finished just one-half game out of second place in only the second year of the program.
Ruben Orozco (5-10, Jr., Des Moines, WA - Mount Rainier & Highline CC) finished seventh in the GNAC in scoring (7 goals, 3 assists) in earning first team all-conference honors, while Xan Nixon (6-1, So., Seattle, WA - Roosevelt) was the conference's No. 4 scorer (8 goals, 2 assists) in earning second team all-star honors.
Two other Saints were honorable mention all-stars - midfielder Vlad Voin (5-10, Jr., Everett, WA - Cascade) and goalkeeper Zac Lubin (6-5, Jr., Bozeman, MT).
Voin had a goal and four assists, while Lubin posted a 1.98 GAA and had a pair of shutouts.
Midfielder Austin Kelley (6-2, So., Olympia, WA); forward Cody Clark (5-9, So., Bremerton, WA - Olympic) and defenders Tony Armitage (5-10, So., Federal Way, WA - Kennedy); James Schmid (5-11, So., Maple Valley, WA - Tahoma) and Erik Orozco (5-6, Jr., Federal Way, WA - Decatur) also return from last year's starting unit.
Kelley had two goals and four assists and Clark and Armitage each had two goals and one assist in their freshman seasons.
Northwest Nazarene had a winning season (10-8-2) in its first campaign after resurrecting its program and returns 11 players who started 14 or more games though it did lose one starter - midfielder Jose Oregon who had four goals and two assists.
Four of its returnees were all-stars - midfielders Alonso Avila (5-8, Sr., Yuma, AZ - Yuma Catholic) and Brock Ogami (5-8, So., Boise, ID - Borah & WWCC) and forwards Alex Mangeac (5-8, So., Nampa, ID - Skyview) and Ben Mangeac (5-10, So., Nampa, ID - Skyview).
Avila was a first team GNAC all-star selections, while Alex Mangeac, who ranked third in the GNAC in scoring with 28 points (12 goals, 4 assists) and Ogami (4 goals, 4 assists) were second team selections.
Ben Mangeac (3 goals, team-leading 8 assists) earned honorable mention honors.
The Crusaders also added three JC standouts, including All-American midfielder Renatto Brito (5-9, Jr., Boring, OR).
Brito scored 10 goals and had 10 assists in two seasons at North Idaho, earning JC All-American honors in his sophomore season.
Another newcomer is Nampa product Cesar Lira (5-11, Jr., Nampa, ID), who was a Region first team all-star for North Idaho.
Lira is one of four goalies listed on NNU's roster including incumbent starter Alexander Engemann (6-3, So., Fort Collins, CO - Poudre), who had a 1.79 GAA and four shutouts a year ago.
Great Northwest Coaches Poll, 2008 Records, Pts
1. Western Washington (5), 11-5-3 (7-1-0), 25 2. Seattle Pacific, 6-10-3 (4-4-0), 17 1/2 3. Montana State Billings, 10-8-0 (3-5-0), 15 1/2 4. Saint Martin's, 6-11-1 (3-4-1), 9 1/2 5. Northwest Nazarene, 10-8-2 (2-5-1), 7 1/2
MONTANA STATE BILLINGS YELLOWJACKETS
Head Coach: Dan McNally, Embry-Riddle '00 (5th year, 33-36-3)
Assistants: Adam Spinelli
2008 Record: 10-8-0
Conference: 3-5-0, 4th
Returning Letter Winners: 14
Returning Starters (6): Sam Charles (F, 6-4, Sr., 19-6-44, Daktronics HM All-American, Daktronics & NSCAA 1st team West Region, 1st team GNAC); Matt Mitchell (GK, 5-11, Jr., 1.06 GAA, 4 shutouts, 2nd team GNAC); Chris Andre (F, 6-0, Jr., 1-5-7); Kyle Moriarty (M, 6-1, Jr., 0-2-2); Jeremy DeHerrera (M, 6-2, Sr., 0-1-1); Zach Yeager (M, 5-9, Sr.)
Other Returnees: Jarred Weisen (M, 5-9, Sr., 7-4-18); Garion Holian (F, 5-11, So., 2-1-5); Tyler Moriarty (M, 6-0, Jr., 1-0-2); Marco Rosales (F, 5-8, Jr.); James Henry (D, 6-2, Jr.); Sander Tollefson (GK, 5-11, Sr., 2.19 GAA); Michael Sheridan (GK, 6-0, So., 3.35 GAA)
Transfers: Ryan Covey (M, 6-3, Jr., Idaho Falls, ID - Central Connecticut); Nathan Yamaguchi (M, Jr., Covington, WA - HCC); Ross Carmichael (M, 6-3, So., Weymouth, England - Budmouth Tech)
NORTHWEST NAZARENE CRUSADERS
Head Coach: Coe Michaelson, Albertson '02 (10-8-2. 1 year)
Assistants: Matt Reuschle
2008 Record: 10-8-2
Conference: 2-5-1, 5th
Returning Letter Winners: 15
Returning Starters (11): Alonso Avila (M, 5-8, Sr., 0-1-1, 1st team GNAC); Alex Mangeac (M, 5-8, So., 12-4-28, 2nd team GNAC); Brock Ogami (M, 5-8, Jr., 4-4-12, 2nd team GNAC); Ben Mangeac (F, 5-11, So., 3-8-14, HM GNAC); Christian Adamson (D, 6-3, So., 1-1-3); Theron Fereday (M, 5-10, Sr., 1-0-2); Kyle Gaedke (M, 5-8, So., 1-0-2); Jeremy Mangeac (M, 5-10, Jr., 0-2-2); Nate Hamm (M, 6-2, So., 0-1-1); Joe Mangeac D, 5-11, Sr.); Alexander Engemann (GK, 6-3, So., 1.79 GAA, 4 shutouts)
Other Key Returnees: Matt Larson (D, 5-11, So., 1-0-2); Drew Shidaker (F, 6-0, So., 0-1-1); Dane Manley (D, 6-2, Sr.); Mitchell Rice (GK, 6-1, So., 1.75, 1 shutout)
Transfers: John Stump (F, 5-10, Jr., Yakima, WA - West Valley & Wenatchee Valley); Cesar Lira (GK, 5-11, Jr., Nampa, ID - North Idaho); Renatto Brito (5-9, Jr., Boring, OR - North Idaho)
SAINT MARTIN'S SAINTS
Head Coach: Rob Walker, Saint Martin's '83 (9-27-1, 2 years)
Assistant: Dave Cross
2008 Record: 6-11-1
Conference: 3-4-1, 3rd
Returning Letter Winners: 20
Returning Starters (9): Ruben Orozco (M, 5-10, Jr., 7-3-17, 1st team GNAC); Xan Nixon (F, 6-1, So., 8-2-18, 2nd team GNAC); Vlad Voin (M, 5-10, Jr., 1-4-6, HM GNAC); Zac Lubin (GK, 6-5, Jr., 1.98 GAA, 2 shutouts, HM GNAC); Austin Kelley (M, 6-2, So., 2-4-8); Cody Clark (F, 5-9, So., 2-1-5); Tony Armitage (D, 5-10, So., 2-1-5); James Schmid (D, 5-11, So., 0-1-1); Erik Orozco (D, 5-6, Jr.)
Other Key Returnees: Gabe O'Hara (M, 6-0, So., 2-0-4); Chase Franklin (M, 5-9, Jr., 1-2-4); Kramer Cross (M, 5-10, Jr., 1-2-4); Victor Kelmel (M, 6-1, Jr.); Jesse Ramos (M, 6-0, Jr.); Chris Laise (D, 6-1, Jr.); Mick Crudo (M, 6-0, So.)
Transfers: Amine Haddadi (M, 6-0, Jr., Shoreline, WA - Shoreline CC)
SEATTLE PACIFIC FALCONS
Head Coach: Mark Collings, Seattle Pacific '99 (6-10-3, 1 year)
Assistants: Mark Metzger, Nate Daligcon, James Ward, Dan Pingrey
2008 Record: 6-10-3
Conference: 4-4-0, 2nd
Returning Letter Winners: 15
Returning Starters (8): Alec Nelson (M, 5-11, Sr., 5-3-13, 1st team GNAC); Elliot Morton (D, 6-4, So., 0-1-1, 1st team GNAC); Drew Williams (M, 5-7, So., 1-4-6, 2nd team GNAC); Ryan Brand (F, 5-10, So., 4-1-9, HM GNAC); Tyler Schultz (M, 5-11, So., 4-1-9, HM GNAC); Andy Wolverton (M, 5-6, Jr., 3-0-6); Jordan Dettmer (D, 5-11, Jr., 0-1-1); Kaleb Kuehn (GK, 6-0, Jr., 1.94 GAA, 1 shutout)
Other Key Returnees: Griffin Fahling (D, 5-10, So., 2-2-6); Enis Isufi (M, 5-9, Sr., 2-1-5); Josh Hensley (M, 5-11, Sr., 1-1-3); Danny Brill (F, 5-10, So., 0-1-1); Corey Sinser (F, 6-0, Sr., 0-1-1); Darren Jewell (M, 5-10, So.); Dillon Ballard (D, 5-9, So.)
WESTERN WASHINGTON VIKINGS
Head Coach: Travis Connell, Seattle Pacific '96 (94-87-11, 10 years)
Associate Head Coach: Greg Brisbon
Assistants: Kyle Langowski (goalkeepers)
2008 Record: 11-5-3
Returning Letter Winners: 18
Returning Starters (6): Gibson Bardsley (F, 5-11, Jr., 7-4-18, 1st team GNAC); Cameron Copps-Tilley (GK, 6-1, Sr., 1.13 GAA, 6 shutouts, 1st team GNAC); Tyler Bjork (M, 5-10, So., 5-4-14); Chris Jepson (D, 6-0, Sr., 2-2-6, 2nd team GNAC); Mitch Barrows (M, 5-11, Sr., 0-1-1); Thomas Kauffman (D, 6-2, Jr.)
Other Key Returnees: Michael Ricci (M, 5-8, Sr., 3-5-11, 2nd team GNAC); Oscar Jimenez (M, 5-8, So., 5-5-15); Kellan Brown (M, 5-7, So., 3-2-8); Brendan Quilici (F, 5-10, Jr., 1-4-6); Darragh Simm (F, 6-0, Jr., 0-1-1); Chris Shin (D, 6-0, Jr., 0-1-1); Matt Fishbaugher (M, 6-1, Jr.); Cris Geday (D, 6-0, Jr.); Kenny Parker (M, 5-10, Jr.); Christian Warman (GK, 5-11, Jr.)
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