WWU No.2 seed at NCAA II West Regional, to host Sub-Regional

WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM Head Coach Travis Connell
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM
Head Coach Travis Connell
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM

Nov. 11, 2013

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Receiving the No.2 seed, the Western Washington University women's soccer team will host a sub-regional and earn a first-round bye as the field for the 2013 NCAA Division II Championship Tournament was announced on Monday, Nov. 11.

The Vikings will meet the winner of the opening-round game of the West Regional on Saturday, Nov. 16, at 2 p.m. at Orca Field on the Whatcom CC campus.

The first-round contest between No.3 seed Sonoma State and No.6 seed Seattle Pacific takes place Thursday, Nov. 14, at 7:30 p.m.

THE LAST MEETING
Western Washington1  
GNAC Tournament - Final vs. Seattle Pacific1OT
November 9, 2013
Starfire Sports Complex, Tukwila, WA
WWU loses penalty shootout to SPU in GNAC Championship game
Western Washington University scored in the dying seconds of the second half to force overtime, but fell in a penalty kick shootout to Seattle Pacific University, 1-1 (4-1), on Saturday in the championship game of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Women's Soccer Tournament at the Starfire Sports Complex.

In the other half of the regional, No. 4 seed Cal State San Bernardino plays No.6 seed Cal Baptist in an opening-round game, the winner advancing to meet No.1 seed and host Cal State Stanislaus at Turlock, Calif.

"Playing host is a well-deserved reward," said WWU head coach Travis Connell (11th year, 138-60-20), the GNAC Coach of the Year for the third time. "One of our goals for the season was to give ourselves the best possible best chance to advance in the tournament. By playing on our field, in front of our fans, in our city, we've been able to accomplish that."

The Vikings, 17-1-1 overall and ranked No.9 in this week's National Soccer Coaches Association of America/NCAA II Top 25, are making their second straight post-season appearance. Last year, they advanced to the regional final before losing 2-1in overtime to eventual national runner-up UC San Diego.

WWU, 9-0-0 at home this season, earned a regional berth after winning a second consecutive Great Northwest Athletic Conference regular-season title (13-1-0) and reaching the championship game at last week's GNAC Tournament. The Vikings lost 4-1 in a penalty kick tiebreaker to Seattle Pacific after tying 1-1 in overtime in the championship game. In a first-round game, they defeated Western Oregon 2-1 in overtime

Western Oregon was the only team to defeat WWU during the regular season, winning 1-0 on Oct. 19 at Monmouth, Ore. The Vikings opened their season with 12 wins and were ranked No.2 nationally for four straight weeks before that loss.

The Vikings have a 51-8 goal advantage with 11 shutouts and a goals against average of 0.42, which is 10th in NCAA II.

Leading the defense are junior Brianna Jones (Bonney Lake), this year's GNAC Defensive Player of the Year and senior Brina Sych (Vancouver/Union), the 2012 GNAC defender of the year.

For all of WWU's defensive brilliance, the Vikings have also been strong offensively, averaging 2.68 goals a game, which ranks 17th nationally. Connell said that will be important in the post-season.

"We are built defensively, but we've been able to score lots of goals in many different ways," he said. "If we can continue to score at this clip, we'll be tough to beat."

WWU's attack is led by senior forward Kristin Maris (Issaquah), named 2013 GNAC Player of the Year, and sophomore forward Catherine Miles (Anacortes). They rank one-two among GNAC leaders in points at 1.37 and 1.63, respectively.

Maris was the only unanimous pick on the GNAC all-star team, being named for the second straight year. She has 10 goals, including three game winners, and six assists this season. She is ninth in WWU history in career goals with 27 and eighth in assists with 17.

Miles, who has earned GNAC Offensive Player of the Week honors three times this season and was the GNAC Freshman of the Year last fall, tops the conference in goals with 14, and is tied for the GNAC lead in game-winning goals with four.

Another WWU first-team all-star is midfielder Kim Cooper (Jr., Bellingham), who has two assists.

Midfielder Ashton Griffen (Duvall/Cedarcrest) has a GNAC-leading 11 assists, just one short of the WWU record.

Goalkeeper Alyssa Beauchamp (Sr., Vancouver/Mountain View) leads the GNAC in GAA at 0.47 and is second in shutouts (7/4).

WWU ranks No.10 nationally in goals against average (0.42), No.9 in assists (2.53), No.17 in shutout percentage (.579), No.17 in save percentage (.843) and No.17 in scoring offense (2.68).

The Vikings lead the GNAC in points (7.89), goals, assists, goals allowed, and GAA, and are second in shutouts.

Seattle Pacific enters the NCAA tournament at 14-5-1 after winning the GNAC Tournament. The Falcons are led by sophomore midfielder Laura Moore, a first-team all-GNAC pick who has a team-high eight goals and four assists. Senior goalkeeper Natalie Harold was a key figure in the GNAC championship game, making seven saves and stopping two more shots in the penalty shootout.

Seattle Pacific has won eight GNAC titles and advanced to the NCAA tourney in each of the last 11 years. The Falcons won a national championship in 2008 and advanced to the national semifinals in 2005 and 2007.

WWU last met Sonoma State in the 2012 regional semifinal, claiming a 2-1 overtime victory at Rohnert Park, Calif. The Seawolves are ranked No.17 nationally and 13-4-3 overall, reaching the championship game of the California Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament before falling to Cal State Stanislaus, 2-0.

Sonoma State is led by three first-team all-CCAA picks - senior forward Cara Curtin, junior midfielder Lauren Curtin and senior defender Lauren Fryer. Cara Curtin has a team-high nine goals and three assists, Lauren Curtin has eight goals and a team-high nine assists.

"Every opponent from now on is a good one, but our motto has been that we'll play anyone, anywhere, anytime," said Connell. "It will definitely be a challenge whoever we face."

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: 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: WWU, SPU Advance to Regionals (Nov. 11, 2013)

PORTLAND, Ore. - Number 10-ranked Western Washington earned the second overall seed to the 2013 NCAA Division II West Regional women's soccer tournament, while Great Northwest Athletic Conference Champion Seattle Pacific was tabbed the No. 6 seed after earning an automatic berth.

The rest of the six-team field for the West Region, announced earlier today, includes No. 1 seed Cal State Stanislaus, No. 3 seed Sonoma State, No. 4 seed Cal State San Bernardino, and No. 5 Cal Baptist. In the first round, WWU will enjoy a bye while SPU squares off against Sonoma State in Bellingham. A first-round victory for SPU would spark a rematch of the 2013 GNAC Championship Tournament Finals.

The women's soccer Division II championships kick off this week, with first round matches set for Nov. 15 and the second round beginning Nov. 17. Round 3 and the quarterfinals are set for Nov. 22 and 24, with the semifinals and finals following on Dec. 5 and 7. The semifinals and finals will be played at the same site as the men's championships, at Blanchard Woods Park in Evans, Ga.

WWU finished the 2013 regular season with an overall record of 17-1-1 and a 13-1-0 mark in GNAC play. The Vikings' only loss of the season came to conference opponent Western Oregon, and WWU fell in the final match of the 2013 GNAC Championships in a penalty kick shootout.

Last season, WWU advanced to the West Region finals, falling to UC San Diego in dramatic double-overtime fashion. The Vikings, ranked as highly as No. 2 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America top-25 this season, avenged last season's defeat with a 1-0 victory over UCSD in their first game of the 2013 season. WWU is coached by Travis Connell, who earned his second GNAC Coach of the Year honor in 2013, his 11th season at the helm of the program.

Seattle Pacific finished its 2013 schedule with a record of 14-5-1 and 10-4-0 in GNAC play. The Falcons ensured a spot in the playoffs by beating Central Washington and WWU in the 2013 GNAC tournament.

SPU also lost to UCSD in the 2012 regional tournament, and opened its 2013 season with a tough loss in San Diego at the hands of the Tritons. The Falcons were in and out of the NSCAA top-25 this season, entering the year at No. 23. Six-time GNAC Coach of the Year and 2007 NCAA Coach of the Year Chuck Sekyra looks to lead his team back to the ranks of his 2008 Division II NCAA Championship squad.