SEATTLE, WA— (SPUFalcons.com) In pursuit of their fourth straight playoff berth, the Seattle Pacific men begin the 2014 soccer season with a pair of games in Chico, California. They open with Humboldt State on Thursday, Sept. 4 at 4:30 p.m. in a neutral-site matchup. The Lumberjacks and SPU tied in each of their last three clashes. On Saturday, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. SPU seeks to avenge last season’s postseason loss to Chico State. The Wildcats won the NCAA first-round encounter 1-0, the same score by which they bettered SPU in the 2013 season opener in Seattle. The Falcons first men’s soccer home game is slated for Sept. 13against Notre Dame de Namur. Kick-off is 7 p.m. at Interbay Stadium, which had a new AstroTurf playing surface installed in July. The SPU men are vying for their 34th NCAA Division II Tournament berth.
Seattle Pacific begins its 47th year of men’s soccer competition. The Falcons lost 1-0 at home to Chico State in 2013, halting an eight-year undefeated streak in season openers (5-0-3). SPU has a 31-8-7 record in all-time season-opening outings.
Eight starters are back for SPU, including first-team All-GNAC goalkeeper Cody Lang. The sophomore shot-stopper registered eight shutouts and an impressive 0.76 goals against average in 2013. Returning players accounted for 22 of the team’s 29 goals last season, including four apiece from the trio of Stephen MacDonald, Bryson Pavel and Sean Russell. Sophomore Jordan Kollars was SPU’s best playmaker with five assists while junior Danny Olivas was tops in total points with 10 on three goals and four assists. Pavel was a first-team All-GNAC defender as was sophomore Davis Karaica. Russell and Olivas were honorable mention all-league selections. The impressive list of returning starters is bolstered by six standout freshmen, sophomore midfielder Keenan dePinna who transferred from Oregon State and red-shirt freshman Gabe Kellum from France.
Quoting Coach Mark Collings
“The defense should be fantastic. We’ll have to replace Kodiac Gamble, but other than that the back line returns intact with Cody (Lang) back in the goal as well. It’s fun to see the chemistry amongst those guys. I remember going into last year in the first game against Chico, you’re starting three freshmen back there and you just hope you don’t get blown out.”
On balanced scoring: “It’s great to have so many guys scoring goals, but at the same time it would be nice to have one guy get really hot and score a bunch of goals for us. We have a few guys capable of that.”
On returning eight starters: “Veteran is an interesting and tricky word because we are still predominantly sophomores and juniors. We’re still fairly young. We only have two seniors on our 24-man roster. We have so many good players now that can really step in and probably deserve to be in our starting 11.”
The SPU men registered a 12-4-3 overall record in 2013, placed second in the GNAC standings with a 10-1-3 mark and participated in the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season. They lost 1-0 against Chico State in the opening round of the playoffs in La Jolla, Calif. The Falcons forged a 14-game unbeaten streak, the longest in school history during a single season. Highlighting the season was a 2-1 upset of top-ranked Simon Fraser on Oct 3 in Seattle. Danny Olivas netted a 79th-minute free kick to secure the victory. Three seniors departed, all of them starters: defender Kodiac Gamble, midfielder Anthony Mohammed and forward Blaine Carver. SPU outscored foes 29-15 led by a trio of four-goal scorers in Stephen MacDonald, Sean Russell and Bryson Pavel. First-team All-GNAC goalkeeper Cody Lang played every minute, compiling eight shutouts and a 0.76 goals against average.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 4 –
Seattle Pacific vs. Humboldt State
4:30 p.m. PDT, University Soccer Stadium, Chico, Calif.
• LiveStats: http://www.sidearmstats.com/csuchico/msoc/xlive.htm
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 6 –
Seattle Pacific at Chico State
7:00 p.m. PDT, University Soccer Stadium, Chico, Calif.
• LiveStats: http://www.sidearmstats.com/csuchico/msoc/xlive.htm
This Week’s Opponents
Humboldt State (6-11-1 in 2013) — The Lumberjacks registered a 6-11-1 mark last year in Fred Jungemann’s first season as head coach. That record was deceiving as five setbacks came by one-goal margins. Humboldt has three of its top four scorers returning, but the departure is significant as Zach Hammond led the CCAA with 14 goals last season. SPU owns an 11-0-4 lead in the all-time series. The teams tied the last three meetings, including a scoreless draw in Seattle during the most recent encounter in the 2010 season opener.
Chico State (14-4-3 in 2013) — In last year’s season-opening matchup, the Wildcats brought nine returning starters to Seattle for a 1-0 win over SPU, which had just four starters back from the previous season. Coach Felipe Restropo’s squad registered a 14-4-3 record in 2013 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Chico lost six starters from that team, all of them All-CCAA players. The Wildcat defense should be dominant, returning starters Justin Walmsley, Matt Hurlow and Isaiah Dargan from a team that yielded just 14 goals (0.64 GAA). Adding to that unit is 2012 all-region defender Michael Janjigian, who was injured all last season. The Wildcats host Dominican Thursday before clashing with SPU. The Falcons own a slim 19-18-2 series edge despite dropping a pair of 1-0 decisions to Chico last year. The Wildcats knocked SPU from the 2013 playoffs on a 63rd-minute goal by Kramer Runager. Walmsley netted the decisive goal during the 33rd minute of the regular-season meeting, on Sept. 7, 2013 in Seattle.
Seventh-year coach Mark Collings is the third head coach in the 47-year history of Seattle Pacific men’s soccer. He has a 64-32-18 record with the Falcons. Collings led SPU to a 12-4-3 record in 2013 and the team’s third straight playoff berth. The Falcons put together a 14-game unbeaten streak, the longest such single-season stretch in school history. A 10-1-3 GNAC record put SPU in second place. They lost 1-0 to Chico State in the first round of the playoffs. In 2012, Collings directed SPU to a 11-3-5 record and in 2011 a 14-4-2 record was capped by the first playoff appearance in five years. Collings was named the 2010 GNAC Co-Coach of the Year after leading SPU to a 10-6-2 record following records of 11-5-3 in 2009 and 6-10-3 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.
Fastest to Fifty
Mark Collings registered his 50th victory on Oct. 11, 2012 in his 88th game as head coach. That is the fastest to the 50-win mark for any Falcons coach. Legendary SPU coach Cliff McCrath (1970-2007) got his 50th win in game No. 94. At 64-32-18, Collings ranks No. 2 in all-time SPU coaching wins. McCrath was 512-190-87 at SPU.
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