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MSU Billings men, women face conference road challenges

Posted at 2:10 PM, Oct 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-17 16:10:41-04

(MSUB Athletics release)

BILLINGS – Entering the final few weeks of the 2018 season this weekend, the Montana State University Billings men’s soccer team begins a four-game road stretch.

The Yellowjackets (5-7-2, 2-4-1 GNAC) open with a Thursday match at Northwest Nazarene University (3-8-1, 3-3) in Nampa, Idaho, before playing at Seattle Pacific University (8-6, 4-3) on Saturday evening. Kickoff against the Nighthawks on Thursday is at 4 p.m. Mountain time, and the game against the Falcons on Saturday is slated for 7 p.m. Pacific/8 p.m. Mountain. Live video and live statistics will be available for both matches online through the MSUB Stretch Internet portal here.

MSUB will play its final two road matches next week at Concordia (October 25) and Saint Martin’s (October 27), before closing the season at home against No. 1 Simon Fraser on November 3.

The ‘Jackets lost to Saint Martin’s University 3-2 in their lone game last week, and had a bye on Saturday. “I am really looking forward to this week’s games,” said MSUB head coach Alex Balog. “We now will find out what our team and players are made of. The last few days have been a process of looking in the mirror and taking ownership of the product we have put on the field so far this season. I have the utmost confidence and belief that this group can turn it around and finish the season in a positive manner. Neither of the games this week will be easy, but we have enough talent and character to get positive results in both games.”

BUZZING IN SEATTLE: Saturday’s game will be the second in a doubleheader at Interbay Stadium, as the MSUB women’s soccer team will also be in town to face the Falcons. After the women’s match at 3 p.m. local time, the men will kick off at 7 p.m. under the lights. It will be the lone doubleheader this year – home or away – with both Yellowjacket teams squaring off against the same opponent.

MARNEAU CONTINUES PRODUCTIVITY IN MIDFIELD: Directly impacting MSUB’s offense for the second straight game, sophomore Guillaume Marneau scored his first goal of the year in the loss to Saint Martin’s. He also played a part on the team’s other goal in the match, as it was his on-target shot that led to an eventual own goal by the Saints. Overall he played a career-high 86 minutes against SMU, topping his previous best of 77 which came last week when he had an assist against Concordia.

PALOMINO SURFACES ON SCORE SHEET: Providing the assist on Marneau’s goal last week was senior striker Ricardo Palomino, who handed out his first assist of the year and upped his point total to five. After two goals early in the year and last week’s assist, Palomino is up to 54 career points as he continues to rank No. 5 in MSUB history.

PEREZ ADAPTING WELL TO STARTING ROLE: Freshman forward Andres Perez earned a starting spot on September 22 against Western Washington and hasn’t looked back since, with six consecutive starts up top. He has yielded a goal and an assist in that time span, and his 69 minutes played last week against SMU were his second most of the season. Perez has been highly accurate in his shooting this season, as his shots-on-goal percentage of .538 ranks second on the team (seven on target in 13 attempts).

MAXWELL FINDING ROLE AT OUTSIDE BACK: Like Perez, fellow freshman Bryan Maxwell has made the most of his opportunities over the last two weeks. Starting each of the last three matches, Maxwell has played all 290 minutes on the defensive unit. Overall he has seen time in a dozen games with nine starts in his first collegiate season, and has played the full time in 8 of 9 starts.

KOWACHEK AMONG LEAGUE’S MOST EFFICIENT GOAL SCORERS: With six goals on the season, senior forward Dana Kowachek is MSUB’s leader and ranks eighth in the GNAC. While playing a total of 949 minutes on the season, Kowachek has emerged as one of the most efficient goal scorers in the GNAC in terms of minutes per goal where he also ranks in the top-10.

Northwest Nazarene University Nighthawks
Thursday, October 18 – 4 PM – Nampa, Idaho
2018 Record: 3-8-1, 3-3 GNAC
Head Coach: Joel DeLass, 3rd season
2017 Record: 8-6-3, 5-4-3 GNAC (3rd place)
First Meeting: NNU 4, MSUB 2 (September 29 at Billings, MT)

Since defeating MSUB 4-2 in the first meeting between the teams, NNU has hit a rough patch with three straight losses. The Nighthawks had back-to-back 5-0 losses at the hands of No. 1 Simon Fraser and Western Washington, before losing 3-2 to Seattle Pacific in their lone match last week. NNU will host Concordia on Saturday after Thursday’s game against MSUB.

NNU is being led by one of the conference’s top scorers in Rafael Junqueira, who is tied for fourth in the league with seven goals. One of those came in the match against MSUB last time, and he has reached his team-leading goal total coming off the bench in half of the 12 games he has played. He is one of just four players in the conference to average one goal every 100 minutes played or fewer, as his minutes per goal mark of 92.3 ranks fourth behind Connor Glennon of Simon Fraser (58.1), Titus Grant of Seattle Pacific (67.3), and Matteo Polisi of Simon Fraser (71.5).

Jake Levine has also reached double figures in points with 10, as he has scored three goals and added four assists in 10 matches. Alex Mitrovic is the team’s other double-figure scorer with four on the year, and Logan Wood is tied with Levine for the team lead at four assists.

Sam Ho is one of the GNAC’s top midfielder’s, as he joins Mitrovic and Wood as the only three field players to have started all 12 matches.

Jacob Hillyer has been the team’s main starter in goal, with 35 saves in nine matches and a goals-against average of 2.71. Hillyer also has the team’s lone shutout of the season.

The Series: NNU holds a 16-11-2 all-time series advantage and is 8-6 in games played in Nampa. The Nighthawks have now won three straight matches and four of the last five.

Last Time Out: NNU scored the first three goals and Junqueira added one more in the 86th minute to combat MSUB’s comeback effort. Guillaume Kremer scored twice to pull the score to 3-2, but the Nighthawks prevailed thanks to first-half finishes by Dominic Abdel-Ahad, Levine, and Mitrovic.

Seattle Pacific University Falcons

Saturday, October 20 – 7 PM Pacific/8 PM Mountain – Seattle, Washington
2018 Record: 8-6, 4-3 GNAC
Head Coach: Mark Collings, 11th season
2017 Record: 11-5-1, 7-4-1 GNAC
First Meeting: SPU 3, MSUB 2 (September 25 at Billings, MT)

The Falcons are perhaps the hottest team in the GNAC aside from No. 1 Simon Fraser, as they have won five of their last six games with the lone defeat in that stretch against the top team in the nation at home. Last week, SPU topped Western Washington 4-2 before a 3-2 victory over Northwest Nazarene.

The Falcons close a six-game home stand with Saturday’s contest against the ‘Jackets, and hold a 5-1 record in home games this season.

Titus Grant, who leads the team and ranks third in the GNAC with 11 goals, was named the GNAC Player of the Week after notching a hat trick in the win over Northwest Nazarene. Grant’s three goals all came within a span of nine minutes, and he also scored in the win over WWU last Thursday to claim the conference’s weekly honor. His pace of 67.3 minutes per goal is second in the GNAC only to Glennon of SFU, and he has accounted for more than one third of his team’s 29 goals in 14 games.

Alden Massey – another highly efficient goal scorer – ranks second on the team with five goals and has added a pair of assists for 12 points. Overall 10 different Falcons have found the net, and all but four players on their roster have either scored or notched an assist.

Though no player on the team has started all 14 games, Nik Reierson and Ed Weise have been among the most consistent each with more than 1,150 minutes played defensively.

In goal, Lars Helleren has started 11 matches with 47 saves and a goals-against average of 1.90. Kary Whitney played the second half between the posts last week against NNU, and has seen time in four games with one shutout this year.

The Series: SPU holds a commanding 18-5-5 record all-time against MSUB, and is 13-2-3 in matches played in Seattle. The teams have split the last five matches 2-2-1, but SPU has lost just twice in the last 19 games dating back a decade to the 2009 season.

Last Time Out: The ‘Jackets suffered a frustrating 3-2 defeat at home on September 27, when SPU’s Chris Cole scored the game-winner with 40 seconds left. After Kremer and Kowachek each scored to give MSUB a 2-1 lead, Grant tied it in the 70th minute before Coles’ winner. All five goals in the game came in the final 45 minutes of play.

MSUB’s women also play their final two road matches of the season this weekend eager to snap a four-game losing skid.

The Yellowjackets (4-8-1, 1-7 GNAC) head to Washington for the second straight week, where they’ll face Central Washington University (2-7-4, 2-4-2) on Thursday and Seattle Pacific University (9-4-1, 5-3) on Saturday. Kickoff for both matches will be at 3 p.m. Pacific time/4 p.m. Mountain, and live video and live statistics will be available online via the MSUB Stretch Internet portal here.

The Falcons are currently in fourth place in the GNAC standings with 15 points, and are looking to distance themselves from fifth-place Western Oregon University (10) points as they move towards securing the fourth and final spot in the 2018 GNAC Championships. The Wildcats are still in the hunt for a berth with eight points and four games left on their schedule. Though the Yellowjackets are not mathematically eliminated from a top-four spot, they must win their final four matches to remain in the conversation.

“We are looking for another big push from the team this week,” said MSUB head coach Stephen Cavallo. “Back-to-back road trips are tough, and it will take all of us coming together and playing well to get positives out of these next two matches.”

MSUB lost 2-0 at No. 18 Western Washington University last Thursday, and fell 3-0 at Simon Fraser University last Saturday. The ‘Jackets are in search of their first GNAC road win of the season, and their first victory since a 2-1 result against Northwest Nazarene University on September 27 in Billings. “The team showed a lot of fight and determination,” Cavallo commented on last week’s games. “We are looking forward to playing CWU again on Thursday. I know the team will be hungry to show improvement from the first match against them. We will keep plugging away and will look at each of the upcoming matches as a chance to improve. We believe that we are close to having a positive result go our way.”

BUZZING IN SEATTLE: Saturday’s game will be the first in a doubleheader at Interbay Stadium, as the MSUB men’s soccer team will also be in town to face the Falcons. After the women’s match at 3 p.m. local time, the men will kick off at 7 p.m. under the lights. It will be the lone doubleheader this year – home or away – with both Yellowjacket teams squaring off against the same opponent.

HARDER HAS BIG WEEKEND: Sophomore goalkeeper Erinn Harder is coming off a big weekend in terms of saves, as she totaled 19 in the Yellowjackets’ two games last week. It was her second-highest saves total in a two-game stretch in her career thus far, as she had 20 saves in matches against Western Oregon and Concordia at home last October. Her 11 stops against Simon Fraser on Saturday were her most of the year, and tied for the second-highest total of her career as she nearly eclipsed her personal best of 12 saves.

Harder’s 38 saves overall this year are eighth most in the GNAC, and she is averaging 3.5 saves per game.

Harder also reached triple digits in career saves last week, becoming the sixth player in MSUB history with 100 or more saves in her career. Midway through her second season, Harder has a total of 106. The all-time record for saves at MSUB is 336, accumulated by Hall of Famer Megan Plank in 71 career games from 2003-06.

LOOKING FOR ATTACKING MOMENTUM: After a tough game offensively with just two shots against Western Washington, the ‘Jackets bounced back with a better performance against Simon Fraser. MSUB managed seven attempts and placed three on target, and will look to build that into a more formidable push against CWU on Thursday. Though the ‘Jackets didn’t score in their 4-0 defeat at the hands of the Wildcats on September 15, they reached 14 shots which was their third highest total of the season. MSUB will look to replicate that mark after reaching double figures in shots just once in the seven games since then.

SANDOW, HEMMEN AMONG GNAC’S MOST CONSISTENT: Entering this week, a total of 12 field players have racked up 1,100 or more minutes as the season reaches its final four games. Among the conference’s leaders in minutes played are Yellowjacket junior center backs Kalin Sandow and Amanda Hemmen who rank eighth and ninth in the GNAC with 1,129 and 1,119 minutes played, respectively. Each has started all 13 games of the year, with Sandow maintaining a streak of 450 consecutive minutes over the last five matches and Hemmen with 285 consecutive minutes over the last four games.

Central Washington University Wildcats
Thursday, October 18 – 3 PM Pacific/4 PM Mountain – Ellensburg, Washington
2018 Record: 2-7-4, 2-4-2 GNAC
Head Coach: Michael Farrand, 19th season
2017 Record: 2-12-3, 1-9-2 GNAC (9th place)
First Meeting: CWU 4, MSUB 0 (September 15 at Billings, MT)

Though CWU has had just one win in its last seven games dating back to the first meeting against the Yellowjackets, the team has had some promising results against tough conference opponents. The ‘Cats drew No. 18 Western Washington 1-1 on October 6, and narrowly lost to No. 6 Concordia in their most recent match falling 2-1 last Saturday. Overall CWU split its games last week, as the loss to the GNAC-leading Cavaliers came after a 3-2 road win over Saint Martin’s University.

Madison Bradley and Makinzie Packwood are tied for the team lead with four goals apiece, and the former also has an assist for a team-leading nine points through 12 matches. Sydney Lowe leads her team with three assists coming out of the midfield.

Kennedy Anson and Alyssa Barden are the only Wildcats to have started all 13 games, with the latter pacing the team at 1,163 minutes played.

Emily Thomson has been the primary starter in goal, with 44 saves and a goals-against average of 1.36 in a dozen games played. She has also notched a pair of shutouts.

As a team CWU has been out-scored 21-14 on the year, but has allowed just over one goal per game since beginning conference play (nine goals in eight games).

The Series: CWU made it four straight wins in the series against MSUB, and improved to 15-11-1 overall against the ‘Jackets. CWU holds an 8-4-1 advantage in matches played in Ellensburg.

Last Time Out: The Wildcats bookended the first half with goals in the sixth and 40th minutes, and added two more in the second for the decisive 4-0 shutout win. Four different CWU players scored, and Bradley had a goal and an assist in the contest.

Seattle Pacific University Falcons
Saturday, October 20 – 3 PM Pacific/4 PM Mountain – Seattle, Washington
2018 Record: 9-4-1, 5-3 GNAC
Head Coach: Arby Busey, 4th season
2017 Record: 10-7, 8-4 GNAC (4th place)
First Meeting: SPU 2, MSUB 1 (October 6 at Billings, MT)

SPU is 3-2 over its last five matches, with the two losses coming against nationally ranked Western Washington and Concordia. Last week, SPU fell 1-0 to the Cavaliers at home before stomping Western Oregon 6-1 at Interbay Stadium in its most recent match. The Falcons will host Simon Fraser on Thursday evening before Saturday’s affair with the ‘Jackets.

Sophia Chilczuk, the team’s leading scorer, is among GNAC leaders as she is tied for second with 16 points on the year. Her total of seven goals is tied for second in the conference, and she has played in all 14 games while starting 13.

Megan Moore, who is second on the team with 10 points, is tied for third in the conference with six assists. Overall the Falcons have displayed great depth with their scoring, as 12 different players have found the net and 16 total have at least one goal or one assist. SPU’s 27 goals are the third most in the GNAC.

Asia Cayetano is among the team’s top defensive players, as she has started all 14 games and eaten up 1,106 minutes on the back line. Only Julia DeVere’s 1,148 minutes are higher on the team, and she has scored twice with four assists.

In goal, Riley Travis has started 11 games with 46 saves and a goals-against average of 0.97.

The Series: SPU is 20-4-2 all-time against MSUB and has a stellar record of 10-1-2 in games played at Interbay Stadium. With the win earlier this month, SPU is now undefeated in the last seven games against the ‘Jackets dating back to the 2014 season.

Last Time Out: MSUB’s comeback effort fell just short, as a goal by Jordan Devoto in the 74th minute cut a 2-0 deficit in half but was the lone strike of the day. DeVere scored in the 21st minute on an assist from Moore, and the latter put home the game-winner in the 49th minute on a helper from Chilczuk.