WWU takes down Falcons at Interbay

Vikings beat SPU 2-1, season ends with growing team

Kyle Morrison, Staff Writer

Western Washington continued its dynastic run through the GNAC by winning their fourth GNAC championship in five years on Saturday. Making the loss even more painful for the Falcons was the fact that it came on their home field at Interbay stadium. 


Despite the loss, the SPU athletic department is thrilled with a tournament that saw their home team not only make it to the championship, but give the seventh team in the nation a run for their money for all 90 minutes of the match. 


On Thursday, the top-seeded Western Washington University Vikings, who owned a dominant 12-0 conference record and 16-2 record overall, took on the Central Washington University Wildcats, who barely squeaked into the tournament with a 6-5 conference record and an 8-8-1 record overall.


The match was surprisingly close throughout. 


Western Washington took a 1-0 lead in the 31st minute off of a Karli White goal, but before they could take a breath, the Wildcats’ Bella Brown scored in the 33rd minute to tie it up. This sparked the large contingent of Central Washington fans who made the two-hour drive from Ellensburg in hopes of seeing a remarkable upset. 


Central Washington continued to hold on for dear life, until Western Washington’s relentless charge turned into another goal in the 65th minute by Dayana Diaz. Western Washington took 23 shots in the match, compared to CWU’s six shots, showing that while the match was close, the Vikings were just too much for the Wildcats to handle. 


Western Washington won the match 2-1 and advanced to their eighth straight GNAC championship game. 


In Thursday’s nightcap, the host Falcons took on the Western Oregon Wolves. 


The Falcons came into the game as the second seed in the tournament with a 9-3 record in conference and an 11-7 record overall. The Wolves were also coming off a very solid season that saw them go 7-3-2 in conference and 10-5-3 overall.

This game was slated to be a very close, hotly contested game but, fortunately for SPU, two early goals by freshman Chloe Gellhaus and junior Claire Neder in the 24th and 28th minutes tipped off what soon turned into a pretty lopsided affair. 


SPU would score two more goals off the feet of sophomore Makena Rietz and junior Sophia Chilczuk and ended up winning the match 4-1, with WOU’s lone goal coming in the 81st minute by Malia Napoleon, after the match was basically already decided. 


SPU’s win set up a classic GNAC showdown between them and the Western Washington Vikings. 


With an exciting final scheduled to take place at Interbay, the stadium filled with fans about ten minutes before the game started. Both Western Washington and SPU were well represented in the stands and both fan bases tried to chant over each other throughout the entire game. 


SPU took the early lead with a goal from Chloe Gellhaus in the 18th minute. While this goal excited SPU and their supporters, it also seemed to galvanize the Vikings as their intensity on offense almost immediately picked up.  


Jordyn Bartelson tied the match up at one-a-piece in the 26th minute with a difficult header coming off a rebound. The 1-1 tie would last for 56 minutes as both teams began playing chippy defense that reminded everyone what kind of a fierce rivalry these two programs have. 


Finally, in the 80th minute, GNAC Player of the Year Karli White hit the decisive goal to give Western Washington a 2-1 lead, which the Vikings never surrendered. 


Once the game was over, Western Washington celebrated yet another championship in their incredible five year run through the GNAC. 


Normally championship runs like this get labeled as dynastic, but Western Washington head coach Travis Connell down played the dynasty talk. 


“I don’t know about that, that’s really not for me to say,” said Connell. “I am proud of the huge accomplishment to win this game, just to be in this game is a huge accomplishment … we play in a great conference with teams like SPU.”


Despite hope of a possible berth in the western regional, SPU was not selected as one of the seven teams to advance. Instead UC San Diego, Sonoma State, Western Washington, Cal Poly Pomona, Point Loma, Stanislaus State and Cal State LA will play each other for the chance to be named the best of the west and play for a national championship. 


Although SPU’s season is over, it consisted of many positives. The Falcon’s 9-3 conference record following their 2-4 start shows radical improvement across the season that bodes well for next season. Along with a roster that includes 17 underclassmen out of a 26 woman roster, SPU is set up to improve a lot between this year and next year.