Semifinal loss ends 13 consecutive appearances at NCAA Tournament
A 0-2 semifinal loss has ended the SPU Women’s soccer team’s 2017 season.
On Thursday, Oct. 2, at the Greater Northwest Athletic Conference Tournament, the Western Washington Vikings showed why they are the defending national NCAA Division II champions, beating the Falcons and going on to become Great Northwest Athletic Conference champions for the third consecutive year.
At half time, the score remained 0-0.
Within the first minute of the second half, forward Sophia Chilczuk had a shot at goal for the Falcons but was unable to get past WWU’s goalkeeper.
Soon after, Western recorded their first goal of the game, converting off a free kick to end the stalemate.
The Falcon’s second major attempt of scoring came in the 62nd minute from defender Kaytlin Willis. However the junior’s shot fell just short of the goal line as it rebounded off the underside of the crossbar.
WWU went on to score a second goal late in the second half, putting victory well out of reach for the SPU women.
“I think we played well, we just got unlucky,” midfielder Brooke Lancaster said. “We had an overall good performance, they were just able to capitalize on two good opportunities.”
Although disappointed, head coach Arby Busey was most proud of his team’s attitude and willingness to compete with their opponents on Thursday night despite losing to the Vikings twice already in the season.
“We went into the game with confidence, and played with it throughout the entire game,” Busey said. “Western is a team that can really break down your spirit, and we held strong throughout.”
The loss ends a 13-year streak of NCAA Tournament appearances for the Falcons, tying the nation’s longest active streak.
“We fought hard and our performance progressed all season, however this last game was unfortunate and we didn’t want or plan to be out this early,” Lancaster said.
For the seniors in particular, it is hard to believe that their collegiate careers have concluded so quickly.
“Honestly, it doesn’t feel real yet,” midfielder Simone Herzberg said. “I think I’m still letting everything sink in, but it’s been a great four years getting to make lifelong memories with the best friends I could ask for.”
Busey has nothing but praise for the six seniors who will now go on the graduate.
“I think that this group was lead extremely well by the senior class this past year,” he said. “They gave great effort consistently throughout the season, and everyone else followed right along with them.”
Despite the Falcons’ finals run being cut short, there are numerous achievements throughout their season which should be celebrated and acknowledged.
Senior goalkeeper Molly Stinson saved four shots on Thursday night to end her stellar career as SPU’s all-time leader with 278 saves.
Stinson also holds the record for most saves in a season as well as the single-game standard.
Furthermore, six SPU women were named to the All-Great Northwest Athletic Conference team.
Forward Kasey Reeve was named to the first-team after ranking third among GNAC players in scoring, notching 10 goals for the season.
Midfielder Claire Neder was a second-team All-GNAC selection honoree, as well as defender Willis and goalkeeper Stinson.
The honorable mention All-GNAC team included two SPU athletes, midfielder Julia DeVere and forward Sophia Chilczuk.
Chilczuk was also named GNAC Freshman of the Year.
This is a huge honor for the SPU first year, who scored four goals this season and had three assists. Two of Chilczuk’s goals were scored in overtime earlier this season, on two separate occasions winning the game for the Falcon’s, demonstrating experience beyond her years.
The most exciting aspect of these six selections for SPU women’s soccer is that five of them are returning to the team next season.
The individual success of these talented players is a reflection of the hard work the whole team put into this season.
“Their willingness to come to practice and really invest in their growth was very impressive, and it is something that will continue to pay dividends for these players in their futures,” Busey said.
The SPU Women’s soccer team now has the opportunity to rest and recuperate for the next few months.
They will be back in action during spring quarter to improve in exhibition play.