Vikings take GNAC Tournament over Falcons

gnac-logoBELLINGHAM, WA––(Vikings release) No. 1 seed Western Washington claimed its third Great Northwest Athletic Conference Tournament title with a 3-1 victory over No. 3 seed Seattle Pacific with three first-half goals in a match that crossed an international border and ended eight and half hours after the scheduled start time.

Both squads stepped onto Terry Fox Field on Burnaby Mountain in Canada to warm up for their 1 p.m. GNAC championship match, which was the fourth consecutive time the two teams met in the conference final. Shortly before warm-ups ended, however, a thick fog rolled over the field, cutting visibility down to 15 yards.

The match was relocated to Harrington Field at Western Washington University for 7:30 p.m. Seattle Pacific and Western Washington crossed the United States/Canada international border and began play under a constant and heavy rainfall.

GNAC Championship Most Valuable Player Gabriela Pelogi (Federal Way, WA) scored a pair of first-half goals for the Vikings, lifting the Vikings to their 19th consecutive victory and 24th straight home win at Harrington Field.

Seattle Pacific and Western Washington both entered the tournament with two GNAC championships since the conference added the year-end four-team tournament. The win gave Western Washington a conference-best three titles in the GNAC Championships, to go along with a record five consecutive regular-season titles.

The Vikings earned the GNAC’s automatic bid into the NCAA West Regional with the win, entering the tournament with an 19-0-1 record. Seattle Pacific will find out if it’s one of six teams joining Western Washington in the tournament. The Falcons have an 11-4-4 record and was the No. 5-ranked team before reaching the championship match. The NCAA Division II Tournament field will be announced Monday at 3 pm on NCAA.com.

GNAC Defensive Player of the Year Emily Webster (Bellingham, WA/Sehome) scored her second goal of the tournament on a penalty kick to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead, shooting low to the right side of the goal in the 5th minute of the contest.

Pelogi added the second goal putting the ball in the far post off a pass from senior forward Elise Aylward (Renton, WA/Lindbergh). Later in the first frame, Pelogi scored again after senior midfielder Caitlyn Jobanek (Springfield, OR/Thurston) crossed her defender and sent a cross into the box. Pelogi took that cross out of the air from the far post and shot to the opposite side of the goal for the 3-0 lead.

SPU forward Hannah Huesers scored her GNAC-leading 11th goal of the season in the 67th minute when she took advantage of a misplay by WWU goalkeeper Ashley Homer (Puyallup, WA/College of Saint Rose), scoring in the empty net to cut the lead to 3-1.

Game Notes: Gabriela Pelogi was named the GNAC Tournament MVP, joining WWU players Caitlyn Jobanek (2015) and Kristin Maris (2012)…WWU has now won the GNAC Tournament three times (2012, 2015, 2016) and played in the tournament finale in all five years of its existence…Western extended its conference record home winning streak to 24 consecutive games…after a season-opening 0-0 draw on the road vs. Sonoma State, the Vikings have put together a 19-game winning streak…Pelogi’s two goals give her a team-high 8 goals on the season (4 goals in last 5 games)…Emily Webster has scored a goal in three consecutive games, accounting for all three of her goals this season…head coach Travis Connell is 3 wins shy of 200 in his 14 seasons leading the WWU women’s program…over the last five seasons the Vikings have combined to go 95-9-7 (.887).

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