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This Week in WAC Men's Soccer - Nov. 13

This Week in WAC Men's Soccer - Nov. 13

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GRAND CANYON WINS 2018 WAC TOURNAMENT
Behind three 1-0 shutouts from redshirt freshman and tournament MVP George Tasouris, the fourth-seeded Grand Canyon Lopes won the 2018 WAC Men's Soccer Tournament to earn the program's first trip to the NCAA Division I Tournament. The Lopes used an overtime goal by Sam Gardner to win on Wednesday against Utah Valley. Marco Afonso was the offensive hero on Friday against top-seeded Air Force and then Alex Radilla scored the game-winner on Sunday against San José State to clinch the tournament title. All four Lopes were named to the All-Tournament team with Tasouris earning MVP honors after recording a tournament-record 22 saves in three matches. Joining the four Lopes on the All-Tournament team were San José State's Max Allen, Omer Lemus and Andy Rios. UT Rio Grande Valley was represented by Rooby Dalusma and Kyle Edwards while host Seattle U also had two honored in Connor Noblat and Sergio Rivas.
 
GRAND CANYON DRAWS UC IRVINE TO OPEN NCAA TOURNAMENT
After winning the 2018 WAC Men's Soccer Tournament, the Grand Canyon Lopes will head west to UC Irvine to open the 2018 NCAA Tournament. The winner of Thursday's first round match will head north to take on ninth-seeded Stanford this weekend. 
 
The Lopes (12-8-0) earned shutout wins over Utah Valley, Air Force and San José State to earn the WAC's automatic selection to the national tournament. GCU is led offensively by three goals and three assists from Marco Afonso. Their real strength comes in goal as redshirt freshman George Tasouris posted three-straight shutouts in the WAC tournament en route to MVP honors. He has a 0.78 goals against average and .867 save percentage with nine shutouts this season.
 
UC Irvine comes into the national tournament with a record of 11-5-3, having won the Big West regular season title before falling in PKs to UC Davis in the semifinal round of the Big West Tournament. Ivan Canales leads the Anteaters offense with 10 goals and five assists in 19 matches played. Greg Patenaude has seen the majority of time in net, posting a 1.01 goals against average with a .770 save percetnage in 1775 minutes played.
 
AIR FORCE TO HOST CENTRAL ARKANSAS IN NCAA TOURNAMENT
Two-time WAC regular season champion Air Force breathed a sigh of relief on Monday morning as the Falcons received an at-large selection to the NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament for the second straight season and will host Central Arkansas to open tournament play.
 
The Falcons (15-4-0) are one of the nation's most dangerous offensive teams, led by the duo of Tucker Bone, 12 goals and six assists, and Austin Dewing, 11 goals and four assists, up top. WAC Defensive Player of the Year Andrea Seazzu leads the Air Force defense from between the pipes, having posted a 0.70 goals against average and .800 save percentage in 1672 minutes played.
 
Central Arkansas heads to Colorado Springs after winning the Missouri Valley Conference tournament title. The Bears currently sti at 8-5-4 this season including a 2-2 tie at UIW and a 2-1 loss at home to UT Rio Grande Valley. UCA's offense is led by nine goals from Niklas Brodacki. Marc Olsen has seen the majority of time in goal, allowing 18 goals in 1308 minutes for a 1.24 goals against average and .705 save percentage.
 
The winner of Thursday's match will head up Interstate 25 to take on 15th-seeded Denver on Sunday.
 
WASHED, SNOWED OUT
After a lengthy lightning delay and storm that left Sorel Field unplayable, the match between Grand Canyon and Houston Baptist on Oct. 19 was abandoned in the 64th minute and will not be made up. Mother nature wasn't done as the Utah Valley at Air Force match on Nov. 3 was snowed out after a brief storm hit the academy. Because of the disparity in matches played, the WAC standings and seeding for the WAC Tournament were based on winning percentage instead of points.
 
BY THE NUMBERS
Through the WAC tournament, Seattle U leads the WAC in shots (375). Regular season champion Air Force holds the top spot in points (136), goals (48), least goals allowed (14), goals against average (0.72). UT Rio Grande Valley leads the league in assists (46) while San José State is tops in saves (103). Grand Canyon is the leader in shutouts with nine.
 
Individually, UNLV's Marco Gonzalez leads the league in shots (72). UTRGV's Kyle Edwards is the leader in points (33) while CBU's Preston Judd is the leader in goals (15). SU's Sergio Rivas is the assists leader (11) while AFA's Tucker Bone and SU's Noe Meza are tied for the lead in game-winning goals (5). In net, AFA's Andrea Seazzu is the leader in goals against average (0.70) while GCU's George Tasouris has the top save percentage (.867) is the leader in shutouts (9). SJSU's Alex Clewis is the saves leader (95).
 
In WAC-only play, Seattle U led the league in shots (209). Air Force was the leader in points (81), goals (28), least goals allowed (8) and goals against average (0.79). UT Rio Grande Valley held the lead in assists (29) while CSU Bakersfield was the leader in saves (58). Utah Valley, Grand Canyon and UNLV all tied for the lead in shutotus with four.
 
Individually, UNLV's Gonzalez was the leader in shots. UTRGV's Kyle Edwards held the lead in points (22) and goals (10) while teammate William Akio had the lead in assists (7). GCU's Jackson Jellah, UTRGV's Edwards and SU's Meza tied for the lead in game-winning goals with three each. AFA's Seazzu posted the top goals against average (0.73) while GCU's Tassouris held the top save percentage (.822). SJSU's Clewis was the leader in saves with 51 while UVU's Joseph Wheelwright and GCU's Tasouris tied for the lead in shutouts (4).
 
ON THE MAP
Despite a loss in the WAC Tournament, the Air Force Falcons remain a top-25 team heading into the NCAA Tournament. The cadets are ranked 20th in the United Soccer Coaches Top 25 and 17th in the College Soccer News Top 30. Grand Canyon was also mentioned in the CSN Top 30 as the Lopes are among those receiving votes.
 
REGIONALLY RANKED
The United Soccer Coaches switched up the regional ranking system for 2018 and the WAC is now in the Far West Region with the Pac-12 and Big West conferences. Air Force dropped one spot to third while Grand Canyon moved into the randkings at sixth. UT Rio Grande Valley sits at ninth to end the season.
 
REPPING THE RPI
The WAC has five teams in the top 100 of the latest NCAA RPI Rankings. Air Force moved up two spots to 26th while UT Rio Grande Valley dropped a spot to 44th. Seattle U climbed two spots to 46 while Grand Canyon made the biggest jump, moving from 91st to 53rd. San José State also moved up 12 spots to 78.
 
GIANT KILLERS
Exactly half of Grand Canyon's wins in 2018 have come against top-25 programs. The Lopes opened the season with wins over then 12th-ranked Wisconsin and 20th-ranked Creighton. GCU then earned a 1-0 road win at 24th-ranked Seattle U and knocked off eighth-ranked Air Force in Phoenix. The Lopes also earned the win in the WAC tournament against 13th-ranked Air Force. It wasn't just GCU earning big wins though as the WAC played 10 Top 25 opponents from the coaches poll in non-conference play and went 8-1-1 in those games. Air Force, Grand Canyon and Seattle U had two of those wins each, San José State had a win and a tie and UNLV had the final Top 25 win. 
 
DUO NAMED ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT
A pair of WAC men's soccer players were honored for their success in the classroom as well as on the field as Grand Canyon's Austin Day and Utah Valley's Zach Maas wer named Google Cloud Academic All-District by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
 
The duo joined nine other players from Distict 8, which encompasses eight states in the Western U.S. Day, a junior studying business adminsitration, holds a 4.00 grade point average at GCU while Maas holds a 3.95 grade point average as an exercise science and outdoor recreation major.
 
To be nominated, a student-athlete must be a starter or important reserve with at least a 3.30 cumulative grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) at his current institution. In addition, nominated athletes must have participated in at least 50 percent of the team's games at the position listed.
 
AMONG THE BEST
As a conference, the WAC leads the nation in assists with 316 and is second in goals with 333.  The league is also second in saves (874) and in wins (107).
 
PETER THE GREAT
Seattle U head coach Pete Fewing earned his 300th win on Oct. 26 against UT Rio Grande Valley. He is the 21st active coach to reach the 300-win mark, joining GCU's Schellas Hyndman and SJSU's Simon Tobin on the list.
 
CLIMBING THE CAREER CHARTS
A number of players have cracked the WAC top-10 in several career categories. Air Force's Austin Dewing is fifth all-time in points with 74 while teammate Tucker Bone is sixth with 70. Dewing's 28 career goals puts him sixth on the career list. SU's Sergio Rivas finished his career second on the all-time assists list with 27 and Bone is fourth with 22. Rivas moved into the top spot in shots with 243, passing UNLV's Danny Musovski (231). Kansas City's Filippo Errico is second on the career saves list with 206. Errico also holds the top mark in saves in conference play with 122, recently passing CSUB's Nicolas Clever (117).
 
EXTRA TIME
The WAC has seen 25 overtime matches this season, including seven in conference play and two in the WAC tournament. Overall, the league is 10-13-11 in extra time.
 
SMART GUYS
Four men's soccer teams from the Western Athletic Conference have earned the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award for exemplary performance in the classroom as a team during the 2017-18 academic year. 
 
To qualify for the award, the team must have a minimum grade point average of 3.0 or higher for the entire academic year. The team GPA is determined by adding every player's GPA, then dividing by the number of players.
 
UT Rio Grande Valley had the highest team GPA among the WAC teams honored as the Vaqueros posted an impressive 3.50 grade-point average. Grand Canyon was next with a 3.34 GPA, followed by CSU Bakersfield at 3.10 and Seattle U at 3.08. 
 
289 men's teams across all three divisions were honored, with 191 schools receiving honors for both their men and women's team. All four men's teams from the WAC that were honored were joined by their women's programs as well.
 
SOARING HIGH
Air Force head coach Doug Hill recorded his 100th career victory on Sept. 22 as his 10th-ranked Falcons earned a 4-1 win at Kansas City to open WAC play.
 
MAN OF MANY HATS
California Baptist's Preston Judd has made quite the introduction for himself in the Lancers' move to NCAA Division I. The sophomore forward has already recorded two hat tricks this season, scoring three goals in CBU's season-opening win at Saint Peter's and then repeating the feat, and adding an assist, in the Lancers' win at Gonzaga on Aug. 31.
 
LOTS OF LOPES
Grand Canyon recorded its first ever win over a United Soccer Coaches Top 25 team when they earned a 2-1 victory over 12th-ranked Wisconsin on opening night and there were a lot of fans in attendance to witness the feat. GCU set a new attendance record with 6,648 on Aug. 24, breaking the old mark of 6,402 from opening night of GCU Stadium in 2016.
 
A LOT FOR THE LANCERS TO CELEBRATE
California Baptist earned a 3-0 win over Saint Peter's in its first-ever Division I men's soccer game and the victory also happened to be the 100th career win for head coach Coe Michaelson.
 
SEATTLE U PICKED TO WIN 2018 TITLE
Seattle U is the preseason favorite to win the 2018 Western Athletic Conference men's soccer title in a vote of the league's 12 head coaches, who could not vote for their own team.
 
The Redhawks collected nine of 12 first-place votes and 119 total points to take the top spot after winning the 2017 WAC Tournament and advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament. UNLV was selected second with 105 points, just one tick ahead of defending regular season champion Air Force, who earned the remaining three first-place votes and 104 points overall. Tournament Through 9/10ist San José State was selected fourth with 84 points, followed by Utah Valley in fifth with 79 points and Grand Canyon in sixth with 75 points. CSU Bakersfield was selected seventh with 55 points, followed by UT Rio Grande Valley in eighth, Kansas City in ninth, newcomer California Baptist in 10th, Houston Baptist in 11th and UIW in 12th. 
 
AUNE, RIVAS HIGHLIGHT PRESEASON ALL-WAC SQUAD
Seattle U midfielder Sergio Rivas and defender Nathan Aune were selected as WAC Preseason Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year respectively in a vote of the league's 12 head coaches, who could not vote for their own players. 
 
Rivas and Aune are joined on the Preseason All-WAC squad by teammates Anthony Ayala and Josh Adachi. UNLV has three players as forward Marco Gonzalez, midfielder Timo Mehlich and defender Adam Musovski were honored. Air Force had two selected as forwards Tucker Bone and Austin Dewing represented the Falcons. Grand Canyon midfielder Josh Drack and San José State defender Andy Rios rounded out the 11-member team.
 
AUNE, BONE NAMED TO MAC HERMANN WATCH LIST
Seattle U's Nathan Aune and Air Force's Tucker Bone are among those on the watch list for the 2018 Missouri Athletic Club's (MAC) Hermann Trophy. Aune was the 2017 WAC Defensive Player of the Year and a second-team All-American as a junior. Bone was a semifinalist for the 2017 MAC Hermann Trophy as he earned first-team All-American honors as a junior.
 
QUARTET EARNS PRESEASON HONORS
Air Force forward Tucker Bone and Seattle U midfielder Sergio Rivas were both named to the Top Drawer Soccer Preseason Best XI First Team. Seattle U defender Nathan Aune was a second-team selection while teammate Declan McGlynn was named to the TDS Best XI Freshman Team. In addition, both Aune and Bone were named to the Soccer American Preseason Men's College Best XI.
 
WELCOME TO THE WAC
California Baptist joins the Western Athletic Conference as a full-time member in 2018-19. The Lancers won the NCAA Division II Learfield Cup in 2017-18. They will begin their four year transition process to Division 1. This will make them ineligible to compete in post season tournaments (WAC and NCAA) until 2022-2023 season. 
 
 
PLAYING THE BEST
The WAC has 19 non-conference games against participants from the 2017 NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament including rematches of all three games the WAC played in the national tournament last season. Air Force is among those with a rematch, facing Virginia Tech in a neutral-site match on opening night at James Madison. Seattle hosts its second-round opponent Akron on Sep. 7 and then takes on rival and first-round opponent Washington on Sep. 23. Opening night will also feature San José State traveling to defending national champion Stanford and Grand Canyon hosting Wisconsin. Akron will also make the trip to Phoenix on Sep. 20 to take on the Lopes.