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Athletics The Scholar-Athlete

Falcons in the Hunt for Regional, National Tournaments

Autumn Sports Update

By Mark Moschetti | Photo by Andrew Towell

Autumn Sports Highlights
Shayla Page (left) and Brittany Langdon (center) celebrate Kaylie Winston's (right, No. 14) winning goal with 15 seconds left versus Western Washington.

After tying the season-opening school record with six straight wins, the nationally ranked Seattle Pacific men are in prime position to make a second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division II soccer tournament.

Through October 20, the Falcons were undefeated in their six home games at Interbay Stadium, the site of their final three contests prior to the playoffs. That includes one against defending Great Northwest Athletic Conference champion Simon Fraser.

The NCAA soccer tournament, expanded this year from 32 teams to 48, is set to begin November 8. Seattle Pacific has the possibility of hosting the first two rounds, depending on how it does through the rest of the regular season.

Another trip to the NCAAs also is on the horizon for the women's soccer team. The Falcon women went undefeated at Interbay Stadium through their entire home schedule, culminating with a 2–0 win against Western Oregon on Senior Day, October 20. Their regular season wraps up with two road games.

The women's postseason takes on an added element this year with the introduction of the GNAC Tournament, scheduled for November 1 and 3 at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila. The top four teams in the final standings qualify, and the tournament champion is the conference's automatic qualifier for NCAAs. However, additional berths also would be available for teams ranked in the West Region's top six.

Both cross country teams earned a trip to Hawaii for the NCAA West Regionals. At the GNAC Championships on October 20 at Western Oregon, freshman Katie Morris led the women (ranked regionally and nationally) to a third-place finish, and senior Katie Thralls raced to GNAC Newcomer of the Year honors.

Senior Will Harrison was the front runner for the fifth-place men's cross country team. By finishing seventh, Harrison was an All-GNAC selection.

After a slow start, SPU gained considerable momentum on the volleyball court, winning five out of six matches from late September through mid-October. That regular season concludes in mid- November.

SPU Ranks No. 4 in Student-Athlete Graduation Rates

When it comes to academic success, Seattle Pacific University athletes are very close to acing the test on a national basis.

SPU is one of 24 NCAA Division II schools to receive the first D-2 Presidents' Award for Academic Excellence. During the most recently measured four-year period, the Falcons graduated 97 percent of their student-athletes — the fourth-highest percentage in the country and the only Great Northwest Athletic Conference program to top 90 percent.

The Presidents' Award is given to those schools with a four-year academic success rate of 90 percent or higher. The national four-year success rate average is 72 percent.

“Our No. 1 priority is to graduate student-athletes. Our coaches stress this in our recruiting process,” says Erin O'Connell, SPU's athletic director. “I could not be prouder of our student-athletes as a whole, and our coaches and administrators tasked with following their progress. Not only do we excel in the classroom, but in competition as well. We take to heart the D-2 philosophy of a balanced student-athlete.”