The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
SPU men host Dixie State on Friday before No. 19 Grand Canyon visits on Monday
A four-game stand at Interbay Stadium starts the Seattle portion of the schedule for fifth-ranked Seattle Pacific (2-0), which plays its men’s soccer home opener on Friday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. against Dixie State (1-1). This is the first ever meeting between the Falcons and Dixie. On Monday, Sept. 10, No. 19 Grand Canyon (2-0) invades Interbay Stadium for a 7 p.m. game that is SPU’s final non-conference game. The Antelopes are a familiar foe that has clashed with SPU 15 times during the last 11 seasons. The Falcons won the last four meetings in the series. Seattle Pacific begins Great Northwest Athletic Conference play at home next week, hosting Sioux Falls (Sept. 13) and U-Mary (Sept. 15). The Falcons are vying for their 32nd NCAA Division II Tournament berth. They advanced to the West Regional championship game last fall.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 7 –
Dixie State at (#5) Seattle Pacific
7:00 p.m. PDT, Interbay Stadium (900), Seattle, Wash.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 10 –
(#19) Grand Canyon at (#5) Seattle Pacific
7:00 p.m. PDT, Interbay Stadium (900), Seattle, Wash.
LiveStats for Both Games: www.sidearmstats.com/spu/msoc
SPU won its first two games of the season for the first time since 2002. The last time the Falcons opened a year with three wins was 1999 and they last started 4-0 in 1993.
Seattle Pacific is its 45th year of men’s soccer competition. The Falcons are undefeated in their last seven home openers (4-0-3). They battled Chico State (2011) and Humboldt State (2010) to scoreless draws in the last two home debuts. SPU has a 31-7-6 in all-time record during home openers.
Tickets for SPU soccer games can be purchased on game day at Interbay Stadium (3027 17th Ave. W., Seattle 98119). Ticket windows open one hour prior to kickoff. All seats are general admission and priced at $6 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens. SPU students and staff are admitted free. Groups or teams of 10 or more may qualify for reduced ticket rates by calling (206) 281-2085 in advance.
Falcons vs. Ranked Foes
Monday’s clash with No. 19 Grand Canyon marks the second time the Falcons will have faced a ranked foe on the young season. SPU posted a 3-1 win at No. 23 Chico State on Sept. 1. Prior to that, the Falcons last three wins over an opponent ranked at the time of the game all came against Grand Canyon, in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Player of the Week
SPU freshman Danny Olivas, who played a part in three goals last week, received the GNAC Offensive Player of the Week award Monday. Olivas curved a 20-yard free kick around the wall for his first collegiate goal, the game-winner in a 3-1 win at No. 23 Chico State (Sept. 1). He was pivotal in two goals during the season-opening 4-2 win at Notre Dame de Namur (Aug. 30), getting an assist on Blaine Carver’s game-winning score and drawing a foul in the box to set up Richie Evoy’s successful penalty kick.
Eight starters return from the SPU men’s soccer team that registered a 14-4-2 record and advanced to the West Regional final of the 2011 NCAA Division II Tournament. Heading the list of returnees are first-team All-America defender Jon Pearman and honorable mention goalkeeper selection Zach Johnson. They anchor a defense that compiled 11 shutouts and surrendered an average of just 0.88 goals per game. The midfield features first-team All-GNAC standout Caleb Nyone. Helping ease the loss of the team’s top-three scorers, including All-American Tyler Schultz, is junior forward Blaine Carver along with frontline mates Elliot Morton and Kyle Peterman who were both sidelined last season due to injury.
This Week’s Opponents
Dixie State (1-1-0)– Friday marks the first ever meeting between the Red Storm and SPU. Dixie opened the year with a 2-1 win over then eighth-ranked Cal State L.A. before losing 1-0 to Colorado Mesa. Both games were home contests in Saint George, Utah. DSC compiled an 8-8-2 record in 2011.
Grand Canyon (2-0-0)-- The 19th-ranked Antelopes started the season last weekend with wins over CSU-Pueblo (2-0) and Sonoma State (2-1). They host top-ranked Fort Lewis on Friday before visiting Seattle on Monday. GCU is led by the two scores of Saeed Robinson, who amassed 16 goals in 2011. Goalkeeper Joshua Zehring has one shutout and a 0.50 goals against average. The Antelopes and SPU clash Monday for the 12th straight season, having met 15 times sine 2001. SPU leads the all-time series 15-3-5, including four consecutive wins. Sean Russell’s 43-minute strike was the lone goal in the Falcons win last season in Phoenix (Oct. 8).
Fifth-year coach Mark Collings is the third head coach in the 45-year history of Seattle Pacific men’s soccer. He has a 43-25-10 record with the Falcons. Collings directed SPU to a 14-4-2 record in 2011, capped by its first playoff appearance in five years. The Falcons earned the top seed in the West and advanced to the regional championship game. Collings was named the 2010 GNAC Co-Coach of the Year after leading SPU to a 10-6-2 overall record and a second-place league mark of 7-2-1. The Falcons were 11-5-3 in 2009, finishing third with a 4-3-1 league ledger. In his first season, SPU was 6-10-3 with a second-place GNAC finish (4-4) in 2008. Collings replaced Cliff McCrath, who compiled a 512-190-87 mark in 38 seasons (1970-2007). Arnie Aizstrauts was 1-14-1 from 1968-69. The co-captain of SPU’s 1998 Final Four team, Collings was a five-year assistant coach. He avoided a first-year Falcon curse as his predecessors were winless in their inaugural seasons.
Coming off their first NCAA men’s soccer tournament appearance in five years, the Seattle Pacific Falcons head into the 2012 season as the No. 2 pick for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference title in the preseason coaches poll. The Falcons received one first-place vote and 57 points in the polling. Simon Fraser, which has won both league crowns since joining the GNAC two years ago as the first Canadian member of the NCAA, is the favorite to make it three straight. The Clan collected the other seven first-place votes and a total of 62 points. After those two, it’s a significant drop to the No. 3 spot, which belongs to Montana State Billings with 44 points. In addition to their No. 2 position in the GNAC, the Falcons are ranked No. 11 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America preseason poll – the same spot they occupied on last year’s final NSCAA list. Simon Fraser is No. 9 in that poll. SPU and the Clan will square off on Sept. 27 in Burnaby, B.C., and again on Oct. 27 in Seattle.
“With Simon Fraser running the table last year (18-0-1, 9-0-1 GNAC) and returning quite a few players, they’re definitely who I picked to have a great shot to win it again,” SPU head coach Mark Collings said. “But we’re certainly not going to concede it to them. We’re going to do our best to give them a run for it. The thing about our conference is that I don’t think people realize how difficult it is. The quality of the teams is getting better every year, and the amount of travel that we do takes quite a toll.”
Seattle Pacific Athletics Press Release