TUKWILA, WA– (SPUFalcons.com) Isabel Farrell received the conference Player of the Year award on Monday. On Thursday she displayed one of the reasons the honor was deserved – her proficiency on set pieces.
Farrell perfectly placed a free kick into the upper left corner in the 34th minute, lifting defending champion Seattle Pacific to a 1-0 victory over Montana State Billings in the semifinal round of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Women’s Soccer Tournament.
While Farrell’s strike accounted for the only goal, Coach Chuck Sekyra commended the play of his entire team.
“I couldn’t be prouder of how our team came out, how our team finished. We were just a very organized, disciplined, intelligent, hard-playing team that played good soccer tonight and easily deserved that win. No doubt about it.”
The third-seeded Falcons (12-4-2) advance to the conference championship game to play top seed Western Washington, which was a 2-1 winner against Central Washington in the other semifinal. Kick-off for Saturday’s title tilt is 1 p.m. at Starfire Stadium.
The winning team receives the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA Division II Tournament. That is the only path for the Falcons to extend their 11-year streak of playoff appearances as they are not listed high enough in the regional rankings to receive an at-large berth.
Senior Alexa Diaz (Burien, Wash./Kennedy HS) was fouled just outside the arc by MSUB’s Brittney Greenback, setting up a 22-yard free kick for the Falcons. Farrell delivered a left-footed shot that went off the fingertips of goalkeeper Krystal Daniels on the way into the top corner at 33:59.
“Izzy is amazing at those,” exclaimed Sekyra. “We just try to remind her to bend the ball one yard outside the post. She did that and it tucked in because she’s got so much bend on it.
“I’m not surprised at all. That kid has got an idea every time she takes a shot.”
That was the eighth goal of he season for the junior forward, who is in her first season with the Falcons after transferring from the University of Washington.
From her midfield position, Farrell (Redmond, Wash./Interlake HS) was extremely active throughout the game. She led all players with five shots, every one of them sent directly on goal. That figure is just one fewer than the entire Billings total of six shots.
The Yellowjackets put only two attempts on frame and both were gathered by freshman goalkeeper Molly Stinson (Woodinville Wash./Woodinville HS). She registered her second consecutive shutout in her third collegiate start.
“We played great. That was the best defensive game we played all year,” Sekyra said. “Not that Billings is a team that attacks very much, but that’s a hard team to break down and a hard team to play against. Obviously the way they played this year has been successful for them.
But tonight it was a one-sided, one-way game.”
SPU compiled an 11-3 shot advantage during the first half, forcing Daniels to make six saves to keep her team within one goal.
Six minutes into the second half, Farrell nearly added another goal. She had a point blank, 10-yard shot from the center of the box that was blocked on a reaction save by Daniels, who then pounced on the loose ball.
Daniels amassed eight saves for the Yellowjackets, who saw their season end with an 11-4-2 record. They were outshot by a 14-6 margin for the entire 90 minutes.
The Falcons now focus on the GNAC final and another meeting with Western Washington. That will be the seventh encounter between the Northwest rivals within the last 13 months.
The SPU women reached the championship game of the three-year-old tournament for the second straight season. Saturday will be a rematch of last year’s title tilt in which the Falcons tied WWU 1-1 through two overtimes before capturing the crown by virtue of a 4-1 decision in the penalty kick tiebreaker.
Sekyra likes how his team performs at Starfire Stadium.
“We know that we can get it done on this field and I felt that tonight. There will be a great challenge on Saturday and I think we’re up for it.”
The 12th-ranked and undefeated Vikings (16-0-3) beat SPU 1-0 on Oct. 23 in Bellingham after they played to a 1-1 draw on Sept. 20 in Seattle. Western won its third straight GNAC regular-season title.
NCAA WOMEN’S SOCCER
GNAC Tournament — Semifinal
Thursday, November 6, 2014
Starfire Stadium / Tukwila, Wash.
Seattle Pacific 1, Montana State Billings 0
Scoring – 1, SPU, Isabel Farrell, 33:59.
Shots – SPU 14, MSUB 6.
Saves – SPU 2 (Molly Stinson), MSUB 8 (Krystal Daniels).
Corner Kicks – SPU 9, MSUB 0.
Fouls – SPU 11, MSUB 3.
Offsides – SPU 2, MSUB 0.
Seattle Pacific 12-4-2
Montana State Billings 11-4-2
Next SPU Women’s Game
GNAC Tournament Championship Game
Seattle Pacific vs. Western Washington
Saturday, Nov. 8, 1:00 p.m. PST
Starfire Stadium / Tukwila, Wash.
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