Third time’s a charm

Women’s soccer secure a spot in NCAA Division II Championships

Hailey Echan, Editor-in-Chief

 

Through a long season of several victories, the Seattle

The Seattle Pacific University women’s soccer team with their trophy and GNAC champions banner after their big win. (Courtesy of Christian Serwold)

Pacific University women’s soccer team were determined to keep their streak going. With the 2021 Great Northwest Conference Championship in their sights, the Falcons competed against Simon Fraser in the semifinals on Thursday, Nov. 11. They entered the game after winning the 2021 GNAC regular-season championship for the ninth time in the last 20 years on Saturday, Nov. 6.

 

After 27 minutes of relentless defense on both sides of the field, junior midfielder Chloe Gellhaus scored the first goal of the game with a header off of a cross from senior forward Sophia Chilczuk. Immediately following the Falcons’ first goal, senior midfielder Claire Neder scored the second goal of the game, which she tapped into the goal after another assist from Chilczuk.

 

Simon Frasier scored in the last 13 minutes of the game, but the Falcons still prevailed, securing the semi-final victory with a score of 2-1.

 

Fueled from their victory, the Falcons moved on to beat Western Washington University in the championship 4-0. 

Following the first three goals by sophomore Sophie Beadle, junior Chloe Gellhaus and senior Makena Rietz, Rietz scored the final goal of the game. Rietz was the top scorer for the Falcons, scoring 12 goals in the 2021-2022 season, and was named the GNAC Player of the Year on Nov. 9. Rietz’s goal secured the win for the Falcons and crowned them the 2021 GNAC Tournament Champions for the third time since the program began. 

Securing a spot in the NCAA Division II Championships means everything to this team, especially to seniors like defender Ava Giavanola. 

“It feels so amazing. All the hard work our team has been putting in, just to have it our final year, is something really special,” Giavanola said. 

Planning for the Championships includes on and off the field preparations.

“Practicing like normal, focusing on being true to ourselves and who we are as a team,” Giavanola said.  

While Giavanola is ending her collegiate career on a high note, some are just beginning. For freshman defender Landrey McCann, this season was a great way to start. 

“Obviously a great year to come in and try to contribute to the team,” McCann said. “Coming into a team that has so much passion has been so much fun.”

The passion on the team has not gone unnoticed. Jackson Stava, Director of Athletics, speaks to how the team got to where they are. 

“Being selected number one in the region is just a reflection of the work of these young women and the coaches,” Stava said. “It’s been a number of years building to this point and I’m just really excited for what they’ve accomplished.” 

While Stava is proud of the team, no one is more proud than Head Coach Arby Busey. 

“To get back the way that we did in the fashion that we have, to arrive in this moment is a testament to the character and hard work that these women have put in the last couple years,” Busey said. 

SPU’s women’s soccer team is ready for whatever the Championships may throw at them. 

“The mindset in these moments is to really be the best version of yourself. That’s what you have control over is who you are and how you go about things,” Busey said. “That’s been really good so far this year, we just have a ton of confidence in who we are and how we go about things. It’s just doing those things and crossing your fingers that the results will be the same.” 

No matter the outcome, the team has already walked away from this season with plenty of awards to show their effort. 

Senior Sophia Chilczuk had the most assists for the Falcons this season with 17. She was also named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District eight team for the fourth year in a row on Nov. 12, and she was named the Most Valuable Player of the GNAC tournament. 

Other GNAC honors awarded to the women’s soccer team include Defensive Player of the Year to senior defender Madison Ibale, Freshman Player of the Year to forward Lauren Forster, and Coach of the Year to Head Coach Arby Busey. 

The Falcons will host a second-round playoff game on Saturday, Nov. 20 against the winner of Sonoma State and Hawaii Hilo.