Top-seeded Vikings open GNAC Tournament Thursday against WOU

WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM Head Coach Travis Connell
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM
Head Coach Travis Connell
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM

Nov. 5, 2013

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BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Defending champion and No.1 seed Western Washington University faces Western Oregon University, the only team it has lost to this season, in opening-round action Thursday, Nov. 7 (7 p.m.), at the second annual Great Northwest Athletic Conference Women's Soccer Tournament being held at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.

The Vikings, who moved up one spot to No.10 in this week's National Soccer Coaches Association of America/NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll, are 16-1-0 overall and have won a second straight GNAC regular season championship with a 13-1-0 record. They were rated No.2 in last week's West Region poll.

Western Oregon, the No.4 seed, defeated WWU, 1-0, on Oct. 19 at Monmouth, Ore., despite the Vikings having huge advantages in shots, 18-2, and corner kicks, 10-3. The Wolves are 9-3-6 overall with 12 shutouts and placed fourth in the GNAC standings at 7-3-4. WWU won the season's first meeting with WOU, 2-0, at Bellingham on Sept. 26.

The Wolves, who rank 10th among NCAA II national leaders in shutout percentage (0.67) and 12th in goals against average (0.41), are led by goalkeeper Amanda Rose Johnson, who has a 0.45 GAA (16th nationally), allowing just seven goals and having a save percentage of .868 with 46 saves in 1,395 minutes played.

Last year, WWU blanked WOU, 2-0, in a GNAC tournament opening-round contest. No.2 seed Central Washington meets No.3 seed Seattle Pacific at 4 p.m. on Thursday.

The two first-round winners advance to the championship game on Saturday, Nov. 9, at 1 p.m.

The tourney winner earns the GNAC's automatic berth in the West Regional of the NCAA Division II National Tournament on Nov. 14 and 16.

Central is 11-5-1 overall and finished second in the GNAC at 10-3-1. The Wildcats are led offensively by Danielle Brandli with nine goals and Savanna Moorehouse with six goals and four assists. Goalkeeper Kayla Lipston has a 0.79 GAA and a .853 save percentage with 58 saves in 1,142:48 minutes.

Seattle Pacific, which has 10 shutouts, is 13-5-0 overall and placed third in the league at 10-4-0. The Falcons are paced by Laura Moore with eight goals and four assists and Alexa Diaz with eight assists. Goalkeeper Natalie Harold has a 0.75 GAA with 42 saves in 1,440 minutes.

WWU has beaten both Central (2-0 at Bellingham and 2-1 at Ellensburg) and Seattle Pacific (2-1 at Bellingham and 2-1 at Seattle) twice this season.

WWU, riding a four-game winning streak, has posted 11 shutouts this season and has a 48-6 scoring advantage. The Vikings opened the season with 12 wins and were ranked No.2 nationally for four straight weeks before losing to Western Oregon.

Last week, WWU won 2-1 at Central, despite allowing its first and only second-half goal of the season. The Vikings blanked Simon Fraser 5-0 in keeping its home field record perfect in nine games.

Forward Catherine Miles (So., Anacortes), who has earned GNAC Offensive Player of the Week honors three times this season, ranks 14th nationally and leads the conference in goals with 13, and is tied for the GNAC lead in game-winning goals with four.

Forward Kristin Maris (Sr., Issaquah) has 10 goals, tied for second in the conference, and six assists; and midfielder Ashton Griffen (Duvall/Cedarcrest) has a GNAC-leading 10 assists, just two short of the WWU record. Griffen ranks sixth nationally in total assists (6) and ninth in assists per game (0.59).

Maris, who was named GNAC Offensive Player of the Week, had three goals and Griffen four assists in the Vikings' two victories last week.

Maris, who has six assists this season, is tied for ninth among WWU career leaders in goals with 27 and is eighth in assists with 17.

Alyssa Beauchamp (Sr., Vancouver/Mountain View), who ranks 11th nationally and leads the GNAC in GAA at 0.40, is second in the league in save percentage (.867) and shutouts (7/3).

WWU ranks No.7 nationally in goals against average (0.35), No.8 in assists (2.64), No.12 in shutout percentage (0.65), No.17 in save percentage (.872) and No.14 in scoring offense (2.83).

The Vikings lead the GNAC in points (8.29), goals, assists, goals allowed, and GAA, and are second in shutouts.

WWU holds a 32-11-6 series advantage and is 10-1-2 in its last 13 meetings with Central.

The loss to WOU snapped a 16-game series winning streak for the Vikings, who hold a 28-6-0 series advantage.

Seattle Pacific has won seven GNAC titles and advanced to nationals in each of the last 10 years. The Falcons won a national championship in 2008 and advanced to the national semifinals in 2005 and 2007.

The Vikings trail 7-16-3 in their series with SPU.

WWU is coached by Travis Connell (11th year, 137-60-19), who was named the GNAC Coach of the Month for September. He was the NSCAA Far West Region Coach of the Year last fall.

The Vikings finished 19-4-0 in 2012, the win total being a school record, and reached the title game of the Far West Regional.

NOTES: The Vikings are 9-0-0 at home this season ... WWU won both the GNAC regular-season and tournament championships last year ... Griffen earned GNAC Defensive POW honors for her effort in a 1-0 win at No.3 UC San Diego ... Miles earned her first GNAC Offensive POW award of the season with two goals and an assist in WWU's road wins against Northwest Nazarene and Montana State Billings. Her second honor came after scoring three goals in 23 minutes versus Northwest Nazarene ... Sych was the GNAC Defensive POW for Sept. 29- Oct. 5. She was a second-team All-American and GNAC Defender of the Year last season.

Great Northwest Athletic Conference

Women's Soccer: Tournament Kicks Off This Week (Nov. 5, 2013)

PORTLAND, Ore. - Four Great Northwest Athletic Conference teams keep their season alive as they head to the GNAC Championships this week at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash.

Western Washington, which jumped to No. 10 in the lates National Soccer Coaches Association of America top-25, is the top-seeded team entering the tournament after wrapping up its second straight GNAC regular season title last week.

The Vikings will face the fourth-seeded Western Oregon Wolves on Thursday in the second semifinal match, and WOU is the only team to beat WWU all season long.

Central Washington earned the second seed in the tournament, after beating Seattle Pacific for the second time this season on Saturday. The Wildcats converted on their last chance to leapfrog SPU into second place in the GNAC standings, and the two teams will face each other in the first semifinal match of the tournament on Thursday.

In the latest NCAA West Region rankings, WWU remained at No. 2 while SPU fell one spot to No. 7 despite winning both of its games the week before the rankings were released. Three of the top six teams in the West Region according to the NCAA rankings will be selected to the Division II postseason, supplementing the three conference champions to complete a six-team regional field.

WWU remained one of the top teams in the nation in scoring offense, ranking at No. 14 in the NCAA and checking in at No. 5 in win-loss-tie percentage at .941. Defensively, WWU ranks No. 7 in the NCAA in goals-against average at .353 and No. 17 in save percentage at .872. Western Oregon is tied for 9th in save percentage at .893, while ranking No. 12 in goals-against average at .412.

Individually, Catherine Miles checked in at No. 24 in the NCAA in points per game with 1.71, as her 13 total goals are the most in the GNAC and have her tied for 14th across Division II. WWU goalkeeper Alyssa Beauchamp jumped to No. 11 in goals-against average and No. 28 in save percentage.

RECAP: WWU (16-1-0, 13-1-0 GNAC) finished off its regular season slate with a solid 2-1 victory over second-place Central Washington and a decisive 5-0 result over Simon Fraser. The Vikings' goal differential of +36 is by far the best in the conference, as SPU holds the next best mark at +16.

The Falcons (13-5-0, 10-4-0) closed out their season with a tough 1-0 loss to Central Washington after conceding a goal in the first 10 minutes and failing to score for the rest of the match. SPU will get an immediate chance at redemption, as it will face CWU on Thursday in the GNAC tournament. CWU is the only team besides WWU to beat the Falcons twice this season.

Central Washington (11-5-1, 10-3-1) tied the score at 1-1 against WWU on Thursday as Danielle Brandli scored in the 82nd minute. The Vikings responded immediately however, as Kristin Maris scored off a corner less than a minute later to push WWU to victory. After finishing tied for sixth last season, CWU saw marked improvement in 2013, ending up in second place and qualifying for its first GNAC tournament.

Western Oregon (9-3-6, 7-3-4) capitalized on the team-leading goal from Makana Pundyke to tie the game at 2-2 against Montana State Billings (6-8-2, 5-8-1) in the 83rd minute on Thursday, followed by the first career goal by freshman Allison Sprecher in the first period of overtime to send the Wolves to victory.

Northwest Nazarene (2-12-3, 1-10-3) emerged victorious for the first time this season in a GNAC contest, handing Saint Martin's (4-12-1, 3-10-1) a 1-0 loss on Oct. 31 as Lexi Fesenbek scored in the first period of overtime. Simon Fraser (1-13-2, 1-11-2) meanwhile, ended its season against two of the toughest teams in the conference, losing 5-0 to WWU and SPU.

Great Northwest Athletic Conference

2013 Women's Soccer Report Week 9 (Nov. 5, 2013)

Conference All W L T GF GA Pts W L T GF GA

xy-Western Washington 13 1 0 42 6 39 16 1 0 48 6 x-Central Washington 10 3 1 22 11 31 11 5 1 24 15 x-Seattle Pacific 10 4 0 26 10 30 13 5 0 35 12 x-Western Oregon 7 3 4 15 7 25 9 3 6 22 8 MSU Billings 5 8 1 16 21 16 6 8 2 18 21 Saint Martin's 3 10 1 12 21 10 4 12 1 16 27 Northwest Nazarene 1 10 3 6 30 6 2 12 3 8 32 Simon Fraser 1 11 2 6 39 5 1 13 2 7 47

x-clinched GNAC championship tournament berth y-clinched GNAC regular season title

LAST WEEK: Thursday - Western Oregon 3 at Montana State Billings 2; Saint Martin's 0 at Northwest Nazarene 1; Western Washington 2 at Central Washington 1; Simon Fraser 0 at Seattle Pacific 5 Saturday - Northwest Nazarene 0 at Montana State Billings 1; Saint Martin's 0 at Western Oregon 0 (ot); Central Washington 2 at Seattle Pacific 1; Simon Fraser 0 at Western Washington 5.

THIS WEEK: Thursday - GNAC Championships at Starfire Sports Complex, Tukwila, Wash.: Semifinals Game 1 - Seattle Pacific vs Central Washington, 4 p.m.; Western Oregon vs Western Washington, 7 p.m. Saturday - GNAC Championships at Starfire Sports Complex, Tukwila, Wash.: Championship Match - Semifinal Game 1 Winner vs Semifinal Game 2 Winner, 1 p.m.

POLLS: NSCAA National (Nov. 5) - 10. Western Washington NSCAA West Region (Nov. 5) - 2. Western Washington 8. Seattle Pacific 10. Central Washington NCAA West Region (Oct. 31) - 2. Western Washington 7. Seattle Pacific.

NATIONAL STATISTICS (Top 30)

TEAM: Scoring Offense - 14. Western Washington (2.82) Goals-Against Avg. - 7. Western Washington (.353) 12. Western Oregon (.412) W-L-T Pct. - 5. Western Washington (.941) Assists - 8. Western Washington (2.65) Shutout Pct. - 10. Western Oregon (.667) 12. Western Washington (.647) T-29. Seattle Pacific (.556) Save Pct. - T-9. Western Oregon (.893) 17. Western Washington (.872).

INDIVIDUAL - Points/Gm. - 24. Catherine Miles, WWU (1.71) Goals/Gm. - T-19. Catherine Miles, WWU .765) Assists/Gm. - T-9. Ashton Griffen, WWU (.59) T-13. Alexa Diaz, SPU (.57) Goals-Against Avg. - 11. Alyssa Beauchamp, WWU (.402) 16. Amanda Rose Johnson, WOU (.452) Save Pct. - 27. Amanda Rose Johnson, WOU (.868) 28. Alyssa Beauchamp, WWU (.867) Total Goals - T-14. Catherine Miles, WWU (13) Total Pts. - T-21. Catherine Miles, WWU (29) Total Assists - T-6. Ashton Griffen, WWU (10) T-30. Alexa Diaz, SPU (8).

RED LION PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Offense - Kristin Maris, WWU (F, 5-9, Sr., Issaquah, WA - Issaquah) scored three goals last week, including the game-winner against Central Washington in the 83rd minute. Maris' two goals against Simon Fraser on Saturday gave her 10 on the season, tying her with Saint Martin's forward Kelli Bannerman for second-most in the GNAC behind WWU's Catherine Miles.

Defense - McCrea Nirider, NNU (D, 5-4, So., Tacoma, WA - Fife) played 190 minutes last week, helping NNU to its first GNAC win of the season in a 1-0 overtime triumph over Saint Martin's. Nirider anchored a back line that held the Saints scoreless for 100 minutes, and played the full game on Saturday in a tough 1-0 loss to MSU Billings.

Honorable Mention - Lexi Fesenbek, NNU (F, 5-4, So., Olympia, WA - Olympia) scored the game-winning goal in overtime, giving NNU a 1-0 win against St. Martin's on Thursday. On Saturday, Fesenbek helped lead the Crusader offense, firing one shot on goal in NNU's 1-0 loss at MSU Billings; Danielle Brandli, CWU (M, 5-4, Jr., Bellevue, WA - Interlake) scored twice last week, pushing her team-high goal figure to nine on the season. Brandli scored the Wildcats' lone goal in a 2-1 loss to Western Washington on Thursday, then propelled CWU to its second victory of the season over SPU, scoring in the 7th minute in the 1-0 result; Heidi Greenback, MSUB (F, 5-7, Sr., Woodinville, WA - Woodinville) scored in each of the Yellowjackets' two games last week, including the game-winner in MSUB's 1-0 victory over NNU on Saturday and her team's first goal in a tough 3-2 overtime loss to Western Oregon on Thursday; Allison Sprecher, WOU (D, 5-3, Fr., Battle Ground, WA - Battle Ground) scored the game-winning goal as WOU came from behind to defeat MSU Billings on the road in overtime on Thursday. Sprecher earned the start on Saturday, contributing to the Wolves' back line in a 0-0 draw against Saint Martin's; Brianna Jones, WWU (D, 5-8, Jr., Bonney Lake, WA - Bonney Lake) anchored WWU's back line over 90 minutes on Thursday to ensure a 2-1 lead would hold up for a big victory over second-place Central Washington; Gina Cardenas, SMU (GK, 5-10, Sr., Auburn, WA - Auburn Riverside) made seven saves against NNU in a tough 1-0 overtime loss on Thursday, and followed with a five-save performance over 110 minutes in a 0-0 overtime draw against WOU on Saturday; Kayla Lipston, CWU (GK, 5-11, Jr., Federal Way, WA - Decatur) made seven saves last week as CWU suffered a tough loss to WWU but also earned a crucial victory over SPU to move the Wildcats into sole possession of second place in the GNAC standings; Katlyn Lokay, MSUB (D, 5-5, So., Boulder, CO - Boulder) held the Yellowjackets' back line strong for 90 minutes in a tough 1-0 victory over NNU on Saturday, and also played the entire game in MSUB's heartbreaking 3-2 overtime defeat at the hands of WOU on Saturday.

WOLFPACK COMEBACK IN BILLINGS: After striking first against Montana State Billings on Thursday, it took two late goals from Western Oregon to earn a come-from-behind victory. Makana Pundyke put away the equalizer in the 83rd minute, to knot the score at 2-2 and send the game into overtime. Freshman substitute Allison Sprecher took care of the rest, tucking away her first collegiate goal in minute 100 to send the Wolves home happy.

ALONE ON TOP: Since losing its first game of 2013 on Oct. 19, Western Washington has won its last four games and easily captured its second-straight GNAC regular season title with an eight-point advantage over Central Washington in the final 2013 regular season standings. No other GNAC team has currently won more than one game in a row, and with a pair of solid victories thanks to Maris' three goals last week, WWU appears to be peaking heading into the GNAC tournament.

FALCONS FALTER VS CWU: For the second time this season, Seattle Pacific fell to Central Washington 1-0 with the game-winner being scored in the first 15 minutes of play. On Oct. 10, it was a 13th-minute strike from Tarah Duty that did SPU in, while on Saturday it was an even more immediate 7th-minute goal from Danielle Brandli that proved to be the decisive factor. SPU held command of second place after a win on Thursday and a CWU loss, but the Wildcats leapfrogged the Falcons on Saturday to hold on to second place in the standings for good heading into the tournament.

TIDE FINALLY TURNS FOR NNU: In a season full of last-second heartbreaking defeats for Northwest Nazarene, the Crusaders finally caught a stroke of luck on Thursday as they came out on the winning end of a 1-0 tight overtime match. Lexi Fesenbek received a through ball in the 100th minute against Saint Martin's tucking home a shot to end the match and give NNU its first GNAC victory of 2013.

MSUB CLOSES BILL ON HIGH NOTE: MSU Billings finished out its 2013 schedule with a solid 1-0 victory over NNU on Saturday at home on Senior Day. Fittingly, it was Yellowjacket senior captain Heidi Greenback who slotted home the game-winner in the 18th minute of her final career match. WOU'S FAB FIVE FRESHMEN: Allison Sprecher became the fifth Western Oregon freshman to score this season with her game-winner against MSUB on Thursday. Sprecher joined Taylor Higa, Kealakekua Makekau and Savannah Boga, who each have two goals, and Mariah Konyn with one. Even more notable is that each member of the first-year quintet has logged a game-winning goal in 2013.

MULTIPLE-GOAL PERFORMERS: Kristin Maris added a final touch to her brilliant senior campaign, finishing off her regular season career with three goals last week. The figure was the highest in the GNAC, pushed her season total to 10, and tied her with SMU's Freshman of the Year Kelli Bannerman for second-most in the conference.

Heather Young of SPU, Greenback of MSUB and Brandli of CWU were the other GNAC players to score more than once last week, as each contributed a pair of goals. Young also added an assist, brining her point total for the week to one below Maris' at five.

FOUR ASSISTS FOR ASHTON: WWU defender Ashton Griffin total four assists last week, pushing her season total to 10 and moving her into first place in the GNAC in that category. Griffin also moved into the top-10 in the NCAA in assists, as her mark is tied for sixth-most across Division II.

DOUBLE-DIGIT SAVES: Gina Cardenas of Saint Martin's led the GNAC with a dozen saves last week, helping her team to a 0-0 double overtime draw on Saturday and giving the Saints every opportunity for a win in a tough 1-0 overtime defeat on Thursday. Argia Phillips of NNU notched 11 saves for the Crusaders, who collected their first conference win of the season on Thursday thanks in large part to their keeper's performance.

NUMBER OF GOAL SCORERS Western Washington 13 Seattle Pacific 11 Western Oregon 9 Montana State Billings 8 Central Washington 7 Simon Fraser 6 Saint Martin's 4 Northwest Nazarene 3

PLAYERS WITH MULTIPLE GOALS Seattle Pacific 9 Western Washington 9 Western Oregon 6 Central Washington 4 Montana State Billings 3 Saint Martin's 3 Northwest Nazarene 2 Simon Fraser 1