The Seattle Pacific University men’s soccer team took down No. 1–ranked Simon Fraser 2-1 on Thursday night in a home encounter that saw the top two teams in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference square off.
The Falcons (6-1-2, 4-0-2 GNAC) had to grind out a tough win versus the Clan (9-1-0, 5-1-0 GNAC), as both sides couldn’t get their full offensive rhythm going against a tough defensive opposition.
“This win gives the guys confidence. It shows we can play with teams at the highest level,” Falcons head coach Mark Collings said after the game.
The first half saw back and forth action, but it was the Falcons who struck first, though, as a well-taken corner in the 12th minute gave the Falcons an early advantage.
Sophomore midfielder Danny Olivas took a corner that ended up at the feet of sophomore midfielder Matt Merchant, who slid the ball to red shirt freshman midfielder Davis Karaica. Karaica made no mistake, putting the ball past the keeper to get the first goal of his collegiate career.
“We wanted to come out strong against a tough opponent, and getting an early goal is the best way to do so,” Karaica said
The Clan did not stay down for long, though, as they leveled 10 minutes later after some persistence to find the equalizer.
Clan junior midfielder Chris Bargholz broke free after a missed Falcons clearance, but Falcons red shirt freshman Cody Lang denied him on his first attempt with a quick, reactionary save from close range.
However, Lang could do nothing about the diving header Bargholz got off the rebound.
The first half ended with a 1-1 tie, and as the second half began, both teams were more defensive than they had been in the first. The shot count lowered as both teams started to possess the ball more.
Lang was very impressive in the second half, as he proved to be an unstoppable force in front of the Falcons’ goal, pulling off a fine string of saves.
“He allowed us the opportunity to get the goal. He’s been making saves to keep us in games all season,” Collings said.
Lang’s saves proved decisive, as with 12 minutes remaining, the Falcons got the game-winning goal to go up 2-1.
Olivas’ shot just inside the box took a deflection and went around the Clan keeper to hand Simon Fraser its first loss of the season.
“We were all excited, and this shows the hard work we all put in,” Olivas said. “Once we start playing as a team, we know what we’re capable of. We’re good.”
With Olivas and Karaica scoring goals this week, the Falcons 14 goals on the season have now come from 11 different players.
“It makes it more difficult for teams to pick up people. It speaks to our versatility,” Collings said.
The Falcons finished off their week by tying third place Western Washington (5-2-3, 3-0-3 GNAC) 1-1 at home off of a goal by sophomore defender Bryson Pavel.
This week the Falcons get a little rest with a bye on Thursday.
They play Saint Martin’s at Interbay at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.