SEATTLE, WA-(SPUFalcons.com) After negotiating a road-heavy early schedule with an undefeated record, the seventh-ranked Seattle Pacific men’s soccer team starts a four-game homestand this week against a pair of Northwest rivals. The first-place Falcons (6-0-1, 3-0-0 GNAC) host Western Washington (2-4-1, 0-2-1) on Thursday, Oct. 2. Kick-off is 4:30 p.m. at Interbay Stadium as the opener of a soccer doubleheader with the SPU women, who play at 7 p.m. The Vikings have been a tough foe for SPU, which managed a 1-1 tie at home in Seattle and 1-0 win in Bellingham last year. On Saturday, Oct. 4, the Falcons clash with four-time defending Great Northwest Athletic Conference champion Simon Fraser (2-2-2, 0-1-2) at 7 p.m. The Falcons won last season’s Seattle meeting 2-1 when the Clan were ranked No. 1. SPU’s last GNAC men’s soccer title came in 2006. The Falcons are vying for their 34th NCAA Division II Tournament berth. They participated in the playoffs in each of the last three seasons.
The current SPU team is tied for the best seven-game start in school history as the 2012 and 1987 squads also opened with 6-0-1 records. The longest unbeaten streak to start a season was turned in by the 1975 Falcons who went 6-0-4 before losing game 11.
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.
SPU surrendered just two goals this season, neither of them from the run of play. Chico State (Sept. 6) scored on a free kick and U-Mary (Sept. 25) off a corner kick. The latter goal halted the Falcons’ 405-minute scoreless streak. Sophomore goalkeeper Cody Lang played every minute between the posts, compiling 16 saves, five shutouts and a remarkable 0.27 goals against average that leads the GNAC and ranks third nationally. The Falcons defense limited opponents to just 19 shots on goal in seven games.
SPU’s Interbay Stadium had new AstroTurf installed during July … Stephen MacDonald leads all GNAC playmakers and ranks No. 10 nationally with five assists … The Falcons climbed three spots, to No. 7, in this week’s NCAA Division II national coaches poll.
Jordan Thompson scored a golden goal with 49 seconds left in the final overtime Thursday, off a pass from Danny Olivas, to lift the Falcons to a 2-1 victory at U-Mary. Cody Lang stopped four shots, two of them in brilliant fashion. On Saturday, SPU routed South Dakota Mines 5-0 helped by a goal and assist from Stephen MacDonald. Getting their first collegiate goals in that game wereJordan Kollars and Gabe Kellum.
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 ofStephen MacDonald, Bryson Pavel and Sean Russell. Sophomore Jordan Kollars was SPU’s best playmaker with five assists while junior Danny Olivaswas 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 midfielderKeenan dePinna who transferred from Oregon State, and red-shirt freshmanGabe Kellum from France.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 2 –
Western Washington vs. (#7) Seattle Pacific
4:30 p.m. PDT, Interbay Stadium, Seattle, Wash.
• LiveStats: www.sidearmstats.com/spu/msoc
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 4 –
Simon Fraser vs. (#7) Seattle Pacific
7:00 p.m. PDT, Interbay Stadium, Seattle, Wash.
• LiveStats: www.sidearmstats.com/spu/msoc
Scouting the Opponents
Western Washington (2-4-1, 0-2-1 GNAC) — The Vikings are coached for the second season by Greg Brisbon, a 12-year assistant with the program. They bring a two-game losing streak into Thursday’s matchup after being blanked 2-0 by Northwest Nazarene and 1-0 by Montana State Billings. WWU is led by the two goals of Tye Hastings. Goalkeeper Keegan Rogers has two shutouts and a 1.21 goals against average. The GNAC rivals tied 1-1 last season in Seattle on Oct. 5 and SPU won the rematch 1-0 on Oct. 31 in Bellingham. The Falcons boast a 43-14-7 lead in the all-time series against Western.
Simon Fraser (2-2-2, 0-1-2 GNAC) — The Clan are in their fifth year as an NCAA Division II competitor and GNAC member. Simon Fraser advanced to the Final Four in each of the last two years. The four-time defending league champions are off to an uncharacteristic slow start. They are winless in their first three GNAC outings, including a 3-2 loss against Northwest Nazarene in their last outing. Jovan Blagojevic tops SFU and is tied for the GNAC lead with six goals. The Falcons dealt then No. 1 Simon Fraser its first loss in 2013, a 2-1 decision on Oct. 3 in Seattle. Danny Olivas netted a 79th-minute free kick for the game-winner. The Clan, which had won the previous four encounters, were 1-0 victors on Nov. 2 in Burnaby, B.C. to claim a 22-21-6 series edge. The teams did not play from 2007-09 after meeting at least once in each of the previous 32 years dating to 1975.
Seventh-year coach Mark Collings is the third head coach in the 47-year history of Seattle Pacific men’s soccer. He has a 70-32-19 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.
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, posting eight shutouts and a 0.76 goals against average.