Nov. 19, 2008

Courtesy of Seattle Pacific Athletics

SEATTLE - The fourth-ranked Seattle Pacific women's soccer team (18-1-2) continues its pursuit of an NCAA Division II title with a West Regional championship clash against No. 12 Western Washington (17-2-2), Thursday, Nov. 20. Kick-off is 9 a.m. Pacific Time (11 a.m. Central) at Truman Soccer Park in Kirksville, Missouri. The Vikings are the only team to defeat SPU this year. The Falcons advanced to the Sweet 16 by virtue of a 3-1 triumph over No. 19 UC San Diego on Nov. 15 in Seattle. Meredith Teague and Janae Godoy each had a goal and assist in the second-round win. Host Truman State (16-3-2) plays South Central region foe Texas A&M-Commerce (16-3-3) in the site's other third-round matchup. The winners remain in Kirksville to play the quarterfinals, Saturday, Nov. 22 at 11 a.m. PST (1 p.m. CST) for a trip to the Final Four in Tampa, Fla.

Third Time a Charm?
Two Northwest schools, located 78 miles apart, travel 1,554 miles to the Midwest to play for the West Region championship. Great Northwest Athletic Conference rivals Seattle Pacific and Bellingham-based Western Washington meet Thursday for the third time this season. The stakes are much greater this time as the winner advances to the NCAA quarterfinals. SPU is ranked higher (No. 4 to No. 12), but the Vikings are seeded higher in the tournament (No. 1 vs. No. 2). WWU dealt the Falcons their only loss, a 1-0 decision on Sept. 20 in Bellingham. The teams tied 1-1 on Oct. 16 in Seattle during the most recent encounter.

Here They Come Again
The Seattle Pacific women are making their sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance. They advanced through at least one round in each of the last five years. SPU is seeking to advance to the Final Four for the third time in four years. The Falcons reached the national semifinals last year before losing 2-0 to Franklin Pierce in Orange Beach, Ala. In 2005, they lost a 2-1 overtime decision to Nebraska-Omaha in the championship game. SPU has an 8-5-2 all-time record in postseason play, all eight wins coming in the last four years.

Tournament Format
The NCAA Division II Championship is a single-elimination playoff with 48 teams divided into eight, six-team regions. The eight regional champions will be determined during third-round games on Thursday and Friday. Two regional titlists are paired in quarterfinal games at every site, with the winners advancing to the Final Four. The 2008 semifinals and championship game are scheduled for Dec. 5 and 7 at Pepin Stadium in Tampa, Fla.

Falcons vs. the Field
The Falcons played five games this season against opponents from the 48-team NCAA Tournament field, registering a 3-1-1 record. SPU defeated UC San Diego (3-1), San Francisco State (1-0) and Cal State Dominguez Hills (3-2 ot) while getting a tie and loss in two meetings with Western Washington.

Terrific Teague
Senior midfielder Meredith Teague (Redmond, Wash./Bellevue Christian) was named the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and West Region player of the year. She leads Seattle Pacific with 35 points on 13 goals and nine assists. Teague's 33 career assists are six more than any player in SPU history and her 24 goals rank No. 5 on the career charts. Her numbers this year include six game-winning goals and six game-winning assists. So of SPU's 18 victories, Teague has factored into the deciding goal in 12 of them. "She is probably the most consistent player I've ever coached," Falcons coach Chuck Sekyra says.

The Opponents
Western Washington (17-2-2) -- The 12th-ranked Vikings are coached for the sixth season by four-year Seattle Pacific men's soccer letterman Travis Connell (1991-95). WWU is undefeated in its last 16 games. Lucy Miller leads the Vikings with 10 goals while Claire Morgan has eight goals and seven assists. Goalkeeper Kylie Broadbent has eight shutouts and a 0.69 goals against average. This is the first postseason meeting in the all-time series that the Falcons lead 12-2-3.

Truman State (16-3-2) -- The 22nd-ranked Bulldogs are members of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA). Truman won seven of its last eight games, including a 1-0 second-round playoff victory over Washburn. Jessica Wiegert leads the offense with 10 goals while goalkeeper Denise Childress has five shutouts and a 0.87 goals against average. SPU has never played Truman.

Texas A&M-Commerce (16-3-3) -- The Lions, members of the Lone Star Conference, upset No. 1 seed Central Missouri 2-0 to advance to the third round. Meagan Lesley paces the attack with 20 goals and 12 assists. Goalkeeper Taylor Jordan posted six shutouts and a 0.71 goals against average. SPU has never played TAMU-Commerce.

Super Seniors
The 2005 arrival of four players who are now seniors ushered in an unprecedented era of success for SPU soccer. In the four years prior to their arrival SPU was good, with a 57-17-7 record, but had never won a playoff game. Since Claire Grubbs, Shannon Oakes, Meredith Teague and Katie Taylor arrived, the Falcons have been great, posting a 78-8-6 record. In that span, SPU shut out 53 opponents, qualified for every NCAA Tournament, advanced to the championship game their freshman season (2005) and was a national semifinalist last year. Opposing coaches have noticed, showering the SPU senior quartet with awards. Teague is the 2008 conference and regional player of the year. Grubbs was a 2007 All-American. Oakes is a three-time All-GNAC selection. Taylor was a second-team all-conference pick this year.

Dynamic Duo
Junior Jesslyn Rahm (Eugene, Ore.) and sophomore Maddie Dickinson (Vancouver, Wash.) have split time in goal for SPU, combining for 14 shutouts. Dickinson allowed four goals in 939 minutes (0.38 GAA) and Rahm five in 1009 minutes (0.45 GAA). The Falcons recorded lengthy scoreless stretches of 488 and 393 minutes this year.

Seven different SPU players have recorded a multiple-goal game, including Mallorie Gerstmann (Oct. 18) and Jocelyn Charette (Oct. 29) who had hat tricks ... The Falcons have an 18-0-1 record in games when they scored the first goal and are 15-0 when netting two-or-more goals ... Junior Janae Godoy was named the GNAC Player of the Week on Nov. 10, the fourth time a Falcon won the award, including Meredith Teague twice and Amanda Johnson ... The stingy SPU defense shut out 14 opponents and surrendered just nine goals while the offense produced 61 scores ... SPU outshot every opponent, compiling a 417-124 advantage ... Meredith Teague's 33 career assists are six more than any player in SPU history. She distributed a single-season record 16 last year.

GNAC Honors
Senior midfielder Meredith Teague was voted the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year by the league's coaches. She was also honored as the Regional Player of the Year. Teague was joined on the all-conference first squad by teammates Jocelyn Charette, Claire Grubbs and Shannon Oakes. Janae Godoy, Amanda Johnson and Katie Taylor were second-team selections while Savanna Hanson garnered honorable mention acclaim.

Quoting Coach Chuck Sekyra
"We're excited. We're playing our best soccer of the season right now so that makes us feel great. Western is a pretty familiar foe and it is going to be a hard fought game. I'm very proud that two GNAC teams have moved into the Sweet 16. All year long when the seeding was going on we kept hearing that the CCAA was a stronger league and that they played a tougher schedule. This is really great for our league."

Coach Sekyra
Since taking over in 2003, just the third year of the program, Chuck Sekyra has guided Seattle Pacific teams to a record of 114-11-10. He directed four of those teams to GNAC championships, and all six of his squads participated in the NCAA tournament. His Falcons advanced to the 2005 championship game and reached the semifinals last season. Sekyra was a steady defender on the Falcon men's teams that won back-to-back NCAA titles in 1985 and 1986. Sekyra served as an assistant men's coach at Seattle Pacific in 1998 and 1999 under Cliff McCrath, then was an assistant coach at Washington for three years before being named head coach of the Falcon women in 2003. While Sekyra's players have garnered numerous conference, regional and national honors, he has collected a few, as well. Sekyra was named GNAC Coach of the Year in 2003, '04, '05 and '07 and earned Regional Coach of the Year honors in both 2005 and 2007. He received the NSCAA National Coach of the Year award in 2007.

Home Sweet Home
Seattle Pacific has not lost at Interbay Stadium since a 1-0 setback against Seattle University on Sept. 30, 2006. The Falcons posted a 28-0-2 home record since then, including a perfect 15-0 mark last year. They have an 11-0-2 home record this season. SPU is 6-1-2 in all-time home playoff games.