A Recap of the 2017 SMU soccer season
Eric Parks, Staff Writer
The year was tough for the Saint Martin’s men’s team, who finished 2-9-1 in conference and 2-14-1 overall. Brandon Madsen, a transfer student who was featured in the Nov. 6 issue of “The Belltower” set a new Saint Martin’s record for goals in a season (16). Madsen had one hat trick this season, which he earned against Montana State University Billings (MSUB), and scored two goals in a game on three other occasions. Senior Kyle Witzel finished the season strong with six goals in the last six games, including two to help defeat MSUB 5-3. Keeper Griffin Small compiled 84 saves in his 16 starts. Other seniors that saw significant playing time, mainly in the back line, were Joey Mack, McKray Kohn, and Christian Caro.
While the men finished last in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC), they began to find success in the second half of the season. After starting 0-10, the men came together to win two of their final seven games and draw one more. Additionally, over half of Saint Martin’s losses came by only one goal. The Saints fought hard against the three top teams in the GNAC, losing twice to Northwest Nazarene University 1-2, falling to Seattle Pacific University twice by two goals each game and suffering a 2-3 loss against nationally-ranked Simon Fraser University (SFU). Considering that the young team is comprised of only 11 upperclassmen and 26 underclassmen this year, the men fought hard and improved as the season went on. There is reason to believe that our Saints could quickly improve next season and beyond.
The women also faced difficulties throughout the season, posting the same in conference and overall record as the men. The GNAC was a polarizing conference this season for the women, with four teams finishing at or above 24 points while four others, including Saint Martin’s, couldn’t pass eight. SFU, who bested SMU twice (0-5, 0-8) was caught in the middle with fifteen. While the season was disappointing as a whole, there were many positive moments for Saints. Seven days after a 1-1 draw with Central Washington University, the women travelled to Billings, Mont. to face the Yellowjackets and came away with a 2-0 shutout victory. Freshman Tiare Kahalewai and senior Lauren Allison each scored in that match. Their other victory came in overtime at Western Oregon University with senior Dulce Armas tying the game at 1-1 in the 84th minute, followed by freshman Kiersten Madsen scoring the winning goal in the 94th minute in overtime.
The women’s team, like the men, are quite young. Only three of the 26 women on the team are seniors (Brittany Orlosky,Armas and Allison), so while they were likely hoping for more out of their last season as Saints, the rest of the team has time to build off of their season’s high points, as well as an addition of new coaching staff this season. One of the biggest challenges for the Saints will be keeping their matches closer. 11 of their 12 losses came by at least two goals and the team was outscored by the opponent 65-10 on the season. If the Saints can improve their 55 goal differential and replace the impressive production of Orlosky, Armas and Allison, they too can find more success next season.