(MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – A busy Homecoming Weekend on the Montana State University Billings campus features four total soccer matches, including two for the Yellowjacket men’s team as it continues Great Northwest Athletic Conference play at Yellowjacket Field.
The Yellowjackets (4-6-1, 1-3 GNAC) begin action on Thursday against Western Washington University (5-4, 1-2 GNAC) before hosting Concordia University (3-4-1, 1-2 GNAC) on Saturday. Both matches will be part of doubleheaders with the MSUB women’s soccer team, with the men playing the early game at 1 p.m. on Thursday and the late game at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. Live video and live stats will be available for both matches online through MSUB’s Stretch Internet portal here.
“We welcome the challenge of playing Western Washington again this Thursday, and after a disappointing weekend the next game can’t come quickly enough,” said MSUB head coach Alex Balog. “The boys are itching to set the record straight. We know that Western will be tough as always. They are well-coached and have a talented group of players, but we will be prepared. Games against Concordia have been great battles the last few years. Coach Birkey has the ability to get his teams ready to compete against any program. We will have to match their physicality and intensity, and work hard to break them down.”
HOMECOMING WEEKEND AT MSUB: This weekend’s games will be part of Homecoming Weekend at MSUB, which is a campus-wide event running October 5-7. Other campus events during the weekend include the MSUB Mile on Saturday morning at 9 a.m., and MSUB Evening at the Zoo on Saturday from 3-7 p.m. For a full list of Homecoming Weekend events and more information, visit www.msubillings.edu/homecoming.
MSUB KICKS CANCER: Saturday’s match will mark the annual MSUB Kicks Cancer afternoon at Yellowjacket Field, as both Yellowjacket teams show support for the fight against cancer. Players will warm up wearing pink, and proceeds from the event will go towards the American Cancer Society. “Unfortunately both our MSUB programs have been touched by cancer very hard, and we want to add to the awareness that has been created,” said Balog. “Every little bit helps, so we want to make sure we contribute to getting rid of this awful disease.”
LAST WEEK: The Yellowjackets are coming off a tough week at home, in which they lost 3-2 at the hands of Seattle Pacific University last Thursday and 4-2 against Northwest Nazarene University last Saturday. The team’s seven goals conceded were the most in a week so far this season.
A DOUBLE-U AGAINST DUB-DUB U: Saturday will mark the second time this season the ‘Jackets and Vikings will square off, as the teams met just two weeks ago in Bellingham, Washington. MSUB emerged with a 2-1 victory on September 22, as Andres Perez scored in the 25th minute and Austin Shafer added a late game-winner in the 84th.
MATCHUP WITH CU SPELLS GOALS GALORE: Though there have only been six historic meetings between the Cavaliers and ‘Jackets, all of them have tended to be high-scoring affairs. At least one of the teams has scored three or more goals in each prior meeting, and both sides have scored multiple goals in four of the six games. There have been two 3-3, double-overtime draws, and each team has claimed a 3-2 win over the other. Overall MSUB has out-scored CU 18-13, with an average score line of 3-2 in the contests.
GK EARNS ANOTHER HONOR: One of the few bright spots last week for the ‘Jackets was the offensive output of senior Guillaume Kremer, who earned his third career GNAC Player of the Week award after scoring three of his team’s four goals. After a stunning 20-yard free kick against the Falcons, Kremer converted a pair of penalty kick attempts against NNU to up his goal tally to four on the year. Kremer leads the team and ranks fifth in the GNAC with 13 points (4 goals, 5 assists).
He continued to ascend MSUB’s career offensive charts as well, breaking into the top-10 in career goals (14) and moving up to No. 7 in career points (44).
KOWACHEK GETS BACK ON THE SHEET: After going without a point in MSUB’s last road trip, senior Dana Kowachek got back on the score sheet at home last week with a goal against Seattle Pacific. Kowachek is tied with Kremer for the team lead in goals with four, and is the other Yellowjacket in double figures in points with 10 on the season.
BATTISTOTTI, BEDROSIAN WORK HORSES: Aside from Kremer, the only two Yellowjackets to have started all 11 matches this season are sophomores Luca Battistotti and Shantik Bedrosian. Splitting time as an outside back and center back, Battistotti has played a team-leading 980 minutes to average 89.1 per game. Over his last seven matches, he has played all but 13 minutes and overall on the season he has played the full time in 9 of 11 games. Though he didn’t find the net last week, Bedrosian was a cog offensively as he helped generate multiple significant scoring chances for the ‘Jackets. With two assists on his line this season, Bedrosian will look to return to the score sheet this week after providing an assist in MSUB’s first game against WWU.
AMONG OFFENSIVE LEADERS: MSUB remains among the top offensive teams in the GNAC, as it ranks second in the league in total points (50) behind only No. 1 Simon Fraser University (90). The ‘Jackets are also third in shots per game (13.73) while leading the league with 151 total attempts through their 11 games. Only Simon Fraser has scored more goals (32) than MSUB’s total of 18.
Western Washington University Vikings
Thursday, October 4 – 1 PM – Yellowjacket Field
2018 Record: 5-4, 1-2 GNAC
Head Coach: Greg Brisbon, 6th season
2017 Record: 6-6-5, 5-4-3 GNAC (T-3rd)
FIRST MEETING: MSUB 2, WWU 1 (September 22, 2018 at Bellingham, Wash.)
The Vikings have played just one match since their loss to the Yellowjackets, defeating Concordia 2-0 last Saturday at home. WWU will circle back towards Bellingham after Thursday’s game, stopping in Nampa, Idaho, for a match against Northwest Nazarene.
Both of the Vikings’ wins in their last six matches have come in shutout fashion, and despite being 2-4 in that span they have only been out-scored 8-5. Overall on the year the Vikings have kept an even goal margin, with 12 scored and 12 conceded in their nine total matches.
Georg Cholewa leads the team with four goals and three assists, and was the scorer for WWU in the game against the Yellowjackets. Also with multiple goals this season are Drew Farnsworth and Stephen Jinneman, who have two apiece and have started all nine matches.
Eight total players have started all nine games for head coach Greg Brisbon, as there has been minimal fluctuation among WWU’s starting lineup this fall.
Goalkeeper Brandon Wolter has made eight starts between the posts, and ranks second in the GNAC with three shutouts in 2018. Overall Wolter has made 21 saves and carries a goals-against average of 1.13 which is second-best in the league.
The Series: MSUB is 11-18-1 all-time against WWU, and has a record of 5-5-1 in matches played in Billings. The series has tilted slightly into MSUB’s favor as of late, with the ‘Jackets going 5-2 over the last seven matches dating back to the 2015 season.
Last Time Out: The Yellowjacket freshmen rose to the occasion in Bellingham, each scoring their second goal of the year to lift MSUB to the victory.
Concordia University Cavaliers
Saturday, October 6 – 3:30 PM – Yellowjacket Field
2018 Record: 3-4-1, 1-2 GNAC
Head Coach: Dan Birkey, 31st season
2017 Record: 5-10-2, 4-7-1 GNAC (6th place)
After opening conference play with a 2-1 overtime win over Seattle Pacific on September 22, CU has been shut out its last two matches with a 1-0 loss to No. 1 SFU and a 2-0 loss to WWU last week. The Cavaliers will take on Saint Martin’s University at home on Thursday, before Saturday’s match against the Yellowjackets in Billings.
With the Cavaliers’ recent dry spell in the scoring department, their goal margin has slipped below even as they have been out-scored 11-9 in eight matches this fall. Kieran McMinn is the team’s leading scorer with four goals, and he also has an assist for nine total points. Nicholas Denley is CU’s other multi-goal scorer, as he has found the net twice and has five points while starting all eight games.
Besides Denley, Brandon McCurtain, Liam Kiger, and Dane Kiger are the other three field players to have started all eight games on the season. McCurtain is the team’s leader with 742 minutes played, and is 1 of 3 Cavaliers with a pair of assists. In goal, Grant Alcorn has played every minute, with 38 saves and a goals-against average of 1.33. He has also collected a pair of shutouts while facing 111 shots.
The Series: In a series that began just three seasons ago, MSUB is 3-1-2 all-time against CU. MSUB is a perfect 3-0 at home.
Last Time Out: The teams split last year’s series, with MSUB winning 3-1 at home on September 23, 2017 and losing 3-2 on the road on October 19, 2017. Battistotti had an assist in each game, and Kremer had a penalty-kick goal in the road defeat.