Home field advantage

SPU women’s soccer prepares to host the GNAC tournament

Kyle Morrison, Staff Writer

The difference between a great team and a good team often comes down to who has the home field advantage. Athletes getting to sleep in their own beds with the home fans’ support is a huge deal, especially in playoff games where any edge one can get on their competitor makes a big difference. 


Before the season started, the Seattle Pacific University women’s soccer program was selected to host the four-team GNAC Conference Tournament Nov. 14-16. While the opportunity to host the event is already a privilege, it became an even greater experience when SPU qualified for the tournament. 


SPU Athletic Director Jackson Stava explained how significant next weekend will be for the athletic department and the women’s soccer team. 


“Anytime you have the opportunity to host a conference championship on your campus it is a tremendous opportunity,” Stava said. 


“The opportunity to play at home is significant for our team, but additionally the chance to represent this university to others from within our conference through our hospitality, excellence and professionalism is also very exciting.” 


Despite SPU’s home field advantage, they will have their hands full with three tough competitors in Central Washington, Western Oregon and Western Washington, who are also thirsty to bring home a championship title and claim an automatic berth in the NCAA DII Women’s Soccer Championship Tournament.


The Central Washington Wildcats and Western Oregon Wolves faced off this last Saturday to see who would be the third-seed and fourth-seed at the conference. Western Oregon won the match 3-1.


This means that SPU will face off against Western Oregon in the first round of the GNAC Conference Tournament. 


Led by star junior forward Alyssa Tomasini, who leads the team in all major offensive categories, the Wolves are coming off of a solid regular season that saw them compile a 7-3-2 conference record, and a 10-5-3 record overall. The Wolves are 1-1 against the Falcons this year. 


SPU lost 2-0 on Oct. 5, and won a hard fought overtime match 2-1 on Nov. 2. Western Oregon has played SPU very tough this year and if the Falcons are not on their A-game, the Wolves could very easily end the Falcons season in the first round. 


SPU will be the second-seed next weekend after a fantastic season in their conference that saw them go 9-3 against GNAC competition. 


Led by junior forward Sophia Chilczuk, who leads the team in goals and points, as well as her clutch fellow classmate Claire Neder, who has supplied three game-winning goals, the Falcons have turned a tough 2-4 start in non-conference into an incredibly solid run through the GNAC. 


The Falcons finished off their regular season schedule on Saturday with a 4-0 rout of Northwest Nazarene. The Falcons hope this is a sign that they are getting hot at the right time and playing much better than their 11-7 overall record. 


The Central Washington Wildcats will come into the GNAC tournament as the ultimate underdogs. They are led by sophomore midfielder Sydney Lowe and freshman forward Teanna Lathum who lead the team in goals, assists and points. 


The Wildcats finished with mediocre records in both conference play as well as overall. They were 6-5-0 against GNAC competition and 8-8-1 overall. Against the other three teams who have qualified for the conference tournament, CWU went 0-4, scoring only two goals throughout all four matches. With a first round matchup against the Vikings of Western Washington, anything more than a first-round exit would definitely make headlines. 


The favorite in the GNAC conference tournament will be the Western Washington Vikings. Star senior forwards Liv Larson and Karli White have scored 5 game-winning goals between the two of them, leading the Vikings to a superb season that saw them go 12-0 in conference and 16-2 in non conference.


The Vikings will be the only team playing at Interbay next weekend who can say they are nationally ranked. The Western Washington Vikings were ranked the 7th best DII soccer team in the nation last week by the United soccer coaches of America. With all this in mind, Western Washington will be the proverbial goliath of the GNAC tournament next weekend and anything besides winning a tournament championship will be a huge letdown. 


The GNAC Conference Tournament will begin Thursday Nov. 14 with Western Washington battling Central Washington at 4 p.m., and SPU taking on Western Oregon at 7 p.m. The winners of both semifinals will play in the GNAC final at 1 p.m. Saturday Nov. 16. All games will be played at Interbay stadium.