SEATTLE, WA – (SPUFalcons.com) Sophomore forward Jordan Thompson tied the score in the 58th minute and an own goal with 1:49 remaining Thursday gave sixth-ranked Seattle Pacific a 2-1 Great Northwest Athletic Conference men’s soccer win over Montana State Billings.
“To win championships you need a little bit of luck,” SPU coach Mark Collings said. “I don’t think it was a lucky goal by any means, but you need a couple bounces to go your way.”
The Falcons (9-0-1) secured the best start in the school’s 47-year history, a proud heritage that includes five NCAA Division II national championships. Their 8-0-1 record entering the game had them tied with the 1987 squad that lost in its 10th outing.
SPU stayed undefeated going into Saturday’s first-place showdown with Northwest Nazarene. Both teams enter the 7 p.m. game at Interbay Stadium with perfect 9-0 GNAC records.
Billings (3-4-3) saw its league ledger move to 3-2-1 with Thursday’s setback.
The game was decided when SPU’s Bryson Pavel (Boise, Idaho) flicked a header into the 6-yard box that was knocked into the goal at 88:11 by MSUB defender Cameron Lee.
The Yellowjackets scored at 23:44 on the first genuine chance of the game. After receiving a pass from Colin Ralston, Kyle Emerick dribbled down the right flank before sending a low pass into the goalmouth. Jess Thorge poked the ball into the lower left side of the net from four yards out for his fifth goal of the season.
Thorge had four of his team’s five first-half shots, including a 37th-minute attempt that went just right of the post and a dangerous try in the 44th minute that was blocked by a defender.
Billings held its margin through the first half, becoming just the third team to lead the Falcons at intermission.
“We needed to make a little bit of an adjustment, but really it just came to playing a little smarter,” Collings said of changes for the second half. “We’ve talked since day one about tempo, rhythm and possession. Our tempo and rhythm was too slow in the first half. We tried to speed it up, be a little bit more aggressive.
“They didn’t have very many shots in the second half and we just imposed what we wanted to do.”
SPU equalized at 57:33 after Jordan Kollars (Silverdale, Wash./Central Kitsap HS) initiated the play with a pass into the right side of the box. Thompson (Bellevue, Wash./Newport HS) received the ball and deftly dribbled through two defenders before slipping an eight-yard shot through the goalkeeper’s legs from a sharp angle at the right post. That was his fourth goal of the season.
“Fortunately we got a great individual effort from Jordan Thompson to get us on the board and then a hard-fought goal there at the end,” Collings said. “It was a hard, tough match. Billings is good and you can see why they’ve been on a little bit of a run.”
Thompson nearly netted the go-ahead goal on a breakaway five minutes later, but his shot went just wide right. Another of his attempts, in the 71st minute, was saved on a great diving deflection by goalkeeper Tom Lohmann.
Sophomore goalkeeper Cody Lang (Spokane, Wash./Lewis & Clark HS) was credited with one save for the Falcons while Lohmann stopped three shots for MSUB.
Now SPU sets its sights on Saturday matchup with Northwest Nazarene and sole possession of first place. The Crusaders are led by the high-scoring duo of Erik Anderson and Fredy Razo, who have produced eight and seven goals, respectively.
“We really haven’t had a lot of time to prepare for them, we’ve been worried about this game” Collings said. “Obviously they’ve got a couple guys up top that have scored quite a few goals, so we have to deal with them.
“Beyond that it will again come down to a tempo thing. Can we impose our style and rhythm or will they dictate the play? It should be an up-and-down match and we’re looking forward to the opportunity on Saturday night.”
A win or draw in that contest would add another record to this already storied season. Currently the Falcons are tied with the 1975 team (6-0-4) for the program’s longest undefeated streak to start a season. That SPU team lost in its 11th outing.
NCAA MEN’S SOCCER
Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014
Interbay Stadium / Seattle, Wash.
at (#6) Seattle Pacific 2, Montana State Billings 1
Scoring – 1, MSUB, Jess Thorge (Kyle Emerick, Colin Ralston), 23:44. 2, SPU, Jordan Thompson (Jordan Kollars), 57:33. 3, SPU, own goal, 88:11.
Shots – MSUB 7, SPU 16.
Saves – MSUB 3 (Tom Lohmann), SPU 1 (Cody Lang).
Corner Kicks – MSUB 3, SPU 4.
Fouls – MSUB 20, SPU 8.
Offsides – MSUB 1, SPU 3.
Seattle Pacific 9-0-1, 6-0-0 GNAC
Montana State Billings 3-4-3, 3-2-1 GNAC
Next SPU Men’s Game
(#22) Northwest Nazarene at (#6) Seattle Pacific
Saturday, Oct. 11, 7 p.m. PDT
Interbay Stadium / Seattle, Wash.
goalWA.net Local Soccer News is sponsored by Pro Roofing Northwest, Kirkland, Bellevue, Seattle, Redmond, Woodinville, Federal Way, Everett, Snohomish, Issaquah, Renton, Kent, Bothell, Edmonds Washington roofing company.