(Editor's note: MSUB media release)
PORTLAND, Ore. – A hat trick in his Montana State University Billings debut was enough to earn junior striker Halil Yilmaz the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Men’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Week award announced by the conference office on Tuesday.
Yilmaz scored all three goals in MSUB’s 3-2, overtime victory over Texas A&M International University last Thursday at a neutral-site game in Grand Junction, Colo. “Halil had a good trip in Colorado and especially against Texas A&M,” said MSUB head coach Thomas Chameraud. “He really won that game for us. Scoring a hat trick for his first game at MSUB, especially with a game-winner in OT, will be a lifelong memory for him. It was a great debut for him but he cannot rest on his laurels. He will need to find consistency in front of goal throughout the year.”
Yilmaz gave the Yellowjackets the lead in their season-opener, converting a penalty kick just before halftime in the 45th minute. After the Dust Devils equalized in the 60th minute, Yilmaz again pushed MSUB ahead with a stellar left-footed finish into the side netting in the 63rd minute on an assist from Marvin Putu.
With less than seven minutes remaining in the match, TAMIU tied the score again at 2-2 to force overtime. As the clock wound down in the first extra period, Jeremie Briquet provided a through ball from the midfield towards Yilmaz streaking into the goal box. The striker tucked a neat, outside-foot finish off the near goal post and into the net to complete his hat trick and prompt a celebration on the field after the golden goal.
Yilmaz’s effort helped MSUB to its first season-opening win since the 2012 season, and it was also the program’s first hat trick since the 2018 season. His three goals and six total points were the most by any player in the GNAC during the opening weekend of the season.
This is the first-career GNAC Player of the Week award for Yilmaz, who joined the team at the outset of the 2020-21 season but did not see the field during the coronavirus-modified season last year. It is the men’s soccer team’s first GNAC weekly award since the 2019 season, when the ‘Jackets claimed the honor four times. Lars Helleren of Seattle Pacific University was named the GNAC Defensive Player of the Week.
The Yellowjackets (1-1-1) are back in action this weekend with a pair of neutral site matches hosted by Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho. MSUB takes on Colorado Mesa University on Thursday at 3 p.m., before facing Westminster College on Saturday at noon.