Despite being the GNAC champions three times in a row, the Clan head to their first NCAA Championship tournament.
By Bryan Scott
The Simon Fraser men’s soccer teams were already Great Northwest Athletic Conference champions when they hosted the Western Washington Vikings in their final season game last week. They were still awaiting their fate in the NCAA championship team announcements were released later on in the week. The Clan played a strong game and came out on top 3¬–0.
The Clan did not want to give the Vikings a chance, once again shooting early and often. It didn’t take long Clan midfielder Colin Jaques to find Justin Wallace for the game’s first goal in the 11th minute. Michael Winter added another 10 minutes later to double the lead to 2–0. The Clan fired 15 shots in the first half, but only four of them found the net. In the second half, they managed to get seven on target but only John Hodnett found the back of the net off a rebound. JD Blakely was solid in net, recording the shut-out.
With the win, the Clan finished the regular season with a record of 16–1–1 and 12–1–1 in GNAC play.
The NCAA tournament takes place over the next three weeks culminating on Dec. 1st in Evans, Georgia. This year there will be 35 teams competing for the title. It is a single elimination tournament, meaning that the Clan needs to win every game from here on out to win the championship.
They had to wait until Nov. 5 to find out who they would face in the first round of the NCAA championship tournament. When the brackets were finally revealed, it looked good for the Clan. They held on to their first place West Region position and earned a bye into the second round of the tournament. The Clan gladly took the bye after they have spent two years being unable to compete in the final tournament due to their previous NCAA eligibility. Clan midfielder Michael Winter showed excitement, saying “As a senior this is my only chance at an NCAA Championship, and we are going to compete as if we will never have this chance again.”
The Clan’s faced the winner of the Nov. 8 game between the fourth ranked California State University Stanislaus Warriors and the fifth ranked Notre de Namur Argonauts. The Warriors ended up taking the game 3–2 over the Argonauts which set up the second round match with the Clan. The game took place on Nov. 10 and will be covered in a later issue of the Peak.
SFU’s rivals from GNAC Seattle Pacific lost their first round game to California State Los Angeles on the other half of the regional bracket.