The Seattle Pacific men’s soccer team will stay home for the playoffs … but in a good way. The fourth-ranked Falcons (15-1-2) were selected to serve as NCAA Division II Tournament hosts this week by virtue of their No. 1 seeding in the West Region for the 35-team field. SPU will conduct the first two rounds of the playoffs at Interbay Stadium. The Falcons enjoy a bye while hosting an opening-round encounter between No. 4 seed Northwest Nazarene (14-3-1) and No. 5 Simon Fraser (11-4-2) on Thursday at 3 p.m. The winner of that game advances to a regional semifinal matchup with SPU on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Falcons won the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship with a 12-1-1 record. League runner-up Northwest Nazarene dealt SPU its lone loss, a 1-0 decision on Oct. 30 in Nampa, Idaho. Simon Fraser, which advanced to the national semifinals in each of the last two years, finished third in the conference standings. This marks the first time that three GNAC men’s soccer teams received postseason invitations during the same season.
NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Tournament — West Sub-Regional
1st & 2nd Rounds at Interbay Stadium; Seattle, Wash. (hosted by Seattle Pacific)
• LiveStats for all Seattle regional games: http://www.sidearmstats.com/spu/msoc/
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 13 –
Game 1: (5) Simon Fraser vs. (4) Northwest Nazarene, 3:00 pm PST
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 15 –
Game 2: Region Semifinal – Game 1 winner vs. (1) Seattle Pacific, 7:00 pm PST
Tickets for NCAA Tournament games can be purchased at the gate on game day and are $7 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens. Interbay Stadium is located just off the Dravus Street exit of 15th Avenue, at 3027 17th Ave. W., Seattle 98119. For more information please contact the SPU Ticket Office at: (206) 281-2085. SPU students are free with I.d.
Quoting Coach Mark Collings
“We’re obviously really excited to be the No. 1 team in the region and have the opportunity to host this weekend. That means we get to play in front of our home crowd and they also get a first-round bye. We had a great regular season and did a lot of amazing things that I’m really proud of. Now that’s all in the past, we’re on to another season. Northwest Nazarene and Simon Fraser are two very good soccer teams, two of the best teams we played for sure. That is a matchup of two teams that have a lot of great attacking talent and both are good defensively. We obviously know them really well and they know us really well.”
SPU Tournament History
This is the fourth consecutive and 34th overall playoff berth for SPU, which has a 38-24-9 record in all-time postseason games. The Falcons have five national championships to their credit (1978, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1993). They reached the championship game on 10 occasions and were national semifinalists 14 times. Last year in La Jolla, Calif., SPU lost 1-0 to Chico State. The Falcons last served as postseason hosts in 2011 when they registered a thrilling 2-1 overtime triumph over Cal State Dominquez Hills in the first round before falling 3-2 to Cal State L.A. in the regional semifinal.
The NCAA Division II Tournament is a single-elimination playoff starting with a 35-team field divided into four super regions. Azusa Pacific (14-2-0) drew the No. 2 seed in the West Region and will await the first-round winner between No. 3 Cal State L.A. (13-3-1) and No. 6 UC San Diego (10-4-5). The two winning second-round teams from the West Region will meet at the site of the higher seed for a regional championship clash on Nov. 20 with the victor advancing to the Nov. 22 quarterfinals at the same venue. The 2014 NCAA semifinals and championship game are scheduled for Dec. 4 and 6 at Frazier Stadium in Louisville, Ky. Simon Fraser was the West Region champion last year and the 2013 national champion Southern New Hampshire is this year’s East Region No. 1 seed.
Scouting Seattle Pacific (15-1-2)
Fourth-ranked SPU blanked 10 opponents this season behind goalkeeper Cody Lang, who ranks No. 4 nationally with a 0.41 goals against average. The Falcons surrendered just eight goals in 18 games, and never more than one in any outing. They limited opponents to 160 shots (8.9 per game), including just 46 attempts directly on goal (2.6 per game). GNAC champion SPU outscored opponents by a 35-8 margin. Sophomore forward Stephen MacDonald leads the attack with nine goals and seven assists while senior Sean Russell and sophomore Jordan Thompson chipped in five goals apiece.
Falcons Fast Facts:
The Falcons won an outright GNAC championship for the first time. They shared the 2006 title with Seattle U … SPU has an 11-0 record this season when scoring the game’s first goal and is 9-0 when leading at halftime.
Scouting Simon Fraser (11-4-2)
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. SFU won four straight league championships before finishing third this year in the standings. GNAC Player of the Year Jovan Blagojevic leads the league with 18 goals. Goalkeeper Brandon Watson posted six shutouts and a 0.87 goals against average. The Clan split the season series with NNU, losing a 3-2 overtime decision in Nampa before winning 1-0 at home. Seattle Pacific swept the season series with a 3-1 win on Oct. 4 in Seattle and a 2-1 victory on Oct 16 in Burnaby, B.C. The Falcons have a 23-22-6 edge in the all-time series. The teams did not play from 2007-09 after meeting at least once in each of the previous 32 years dating to 1975.
Scouting Northwest Nazarene (14-3-1)
The GNAC runner-up Crusaders make their NCAA Tournament debut after recording a school-record 14 wins. Their potent offense outscored opponents 37-12 led by the 12 goals of Erik Anderson and 10 from Fredy Razo. Goalkeeper Alfredo Ontiveros, the GNAC Defender of the Year, compiled nine shutouts and a 0.65 goals against average. NNU split the season series versus Simon Fraser, losing 3-2 in Burnaby and winning 1-0 at home. The Crusaders dealt Seattle Pacific its lone loss, a 1-0 decision on Oct. 30 in Nampa, Idaho on a Razo penalty kick in the 26th minute. The Falcons won this season’s first meeting, beating then 22nd-ranked NNU 1-0 on an 82nd-minute goal from Bryson Pavel. That was the Crusaders first ever win over SPU, which leads the all-time series 12-1-4.
Seventh-year coach Mark Collings is the third head coach in the 47-year history of Seattle Pacific men’s soccer. He has a 79-33-20 record with the Falcons, including a school-record run of 13 consecutive victories this season. Collings was named the 2014 conference Co-Coach of the Year after leading SPU to its first outright GNAC championship and a fourth straight playoff appearance. Collings led SPU to a 12-4-3 record in 2013, including a 14-game unbeaten streak, that was the longest such single-season stretch in school history before this year. A 10-1-3 GNAC record put SPU in second place. The Falcons 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.
Mark Collings was honored as the 2014 GNAC Co-Coach of the Year and all 11 players from his starting lineup received all-conference recognition, four more than any other team. Goalkeeper Cody Lang, forward Stephen MacDonald and midfielder Danny Olivas earned first-team accolades along with defenders Davis Karaica and Bryson Pavel. The duo of forward Sean Russell and midfielder Chaz Jenkins were named to the second team. The honorable mention list featured Falcons midfielders Ian Adams and Jordan Kollars and defenders Jeffrey Collings and Evan Robicheau.
The Falcons school-record winning streak was halted at 13 games by a 1-0 loss at Northwest Nazarene on Oct. 30. That was their only defeat. The NNU setback also stopped a program-record 15-game unbeaten streak that had eclipsed the mark of 14 games established in 2013. The 15 games without a loss also marked the best start to a season in SPU’s 47-year history.
Eight starters returned for SPU, including first-team All-GNAC goalkeeper Cody Lang. The sophomore shot-stopper registered eight shutouts and a 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 picks. The impressive list of returnees is bolstered by six standout freshmen, sophomore midfielder Keenan dePinna, who transferred from Oregon State, and red-shirt freshman Gabe Kellum from France.
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 GAA.
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