Men’s soccer team wins GNAC title once again

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Clan complete the three-peat, winning two conference games last week

By Bryan Scott
Photos by Adam Ovenell-Carter

The Simon Fraser men’s soccer team was in action last week trying to lock up their third straight Great Northwest Athletic Conference title, before the season ended on Sunday. They battled the Saint Martin’s Saints in Lacey, Washington, and then on to Seattle, Washington to play their rivals Seattle Pacific University.

SFU needed one win in their last three games and a Seattle Pacific loss to clinch the conference before the match against the Saints. The Clan came out firing on all cylinders to start the game. It took just under six minutes of play before midfielder Justin Wallace buried his eighth of the season, putting the Clan up 1–0.

The Saint Martin’s goalkeeper Eric Owen kept the game tight in the eighth minute, making saves off shots by Colin Jaques and Matt Besuschko. In the 11th minute, Ryan Dhillon put the Clan up by two, scoring in the top left corner from the top of the box. Five minutes later, Dhillon scored his second of the game and seventh of the season on a nifty passing play from captain Helge Neumann and forward Carlo Basso. Dhillon returned the favour in the 26th minute, assisting on Basso’s 12 goal of the season, putting the Clan up by four, just over halfway through the first half.

Alex Rowley added a penalty kick goal before the 40-minute mark. The Saints managed to stop the bleeding before the end of the first half, when a shot from the top of the box beat Clan goalkeeper JD Blakely.

The Saints were unable to mount any sort of dream comeback in the second half. Joel Malouf made sure of that when he scored a header off a throw in by Jaques. Colby Liston put in his fourth goal of the year, with a chip shot over Owen in the 67th minute that closed out the scoring in the game. The Clan walked away with a convincing 7–1 win. The Western Washington Vikings did them a favour by beating Seattle Pacific 3–1 in their match that same night, allowing the completion of the threepeat.

Senior athletic director Milton Richards was pleased with the result, saying, “I wish them well as they move forward into the national tournament and continue to make history for our school, in our conference and in the NCAA.”

Just because the Clan locked up top spot in the GNAC did not mean that the game against Seattle Pacific would be a breeze. In fact, these two teams battled to the very end of the game, and it took overtime play to decide the result.

This game was an exact opposite to the lopsided goal-fest that they had against the Saints. Both teams put on a defensive clinic. Seattle Pacific outshot SFU 9–4 in the first half, but did not register a shot on goal. This can be credited to the Clan defense that blocked six shots to keep the game knotted at zero.

The second half was much of the same. This time the Clan outshot the opponent but the goalkeeper Zach Johnson made three saves to force the game into overtime.

Three minutes into overtime, the Clan substituted John Hodnett for Carlo Basso. This would prove to be a fantastic decision. In the 97th minute, Dhillon passed the ball from the left side over to Hodnett, who made no mistake for his sixth of the season, giving the Clan the win and some bragging rights.

The Clan finished their season on Sunday against Western Washington at home. The last two wins helped the Clan retain their third place national ranking. Seattle Pacific dropped from 11th to 22nd in the recent coaches’ poll that came out on the Oct. 30. The NCAA champion tournament selections will be announced on Nov. 5.