Wednesday, November 19, 2014

INW Best XI - Week 12: Freshmen Espinoza and Heaps lead Whitworth, Concordia to playoff wins

Whitworth University advanced to the D-III NCAA Tournament's final 16 with a pair of victories garnered with the heroics of Eric Espinoza. The freshman midfielder, who came into the weekend with just a goal and two assists on his ledger, tallied a goal and a game-winning assist on the weekend as they shutout two opponents on the other side of the country.

After working her way into the starting lineup, freshman defender/midfielder Martha Heaps has had a fantastic postseason for Concordia University. After scoring her first collegiate goal last week in the semifinal win, she added to it with the game-winning strike in the CCC championship game this week to send the Cavaliers back to the NAIA tournament to defend their title.

INW NAIA & NWAC College Recap – Week Twelve: Spokane, NIC come up short in NWAC; Idaho trio lead Corban to title

The Cascade Collegiate Conference and the Northwest Athletic Conference both crowned champions over the weekend.

In the NWAC, the North Idaho College men advanced to the championship game with a dramatic overtime victory, but came up empty against a Highline side that had a fantastic championship weekend. On the women's side, CC Spokane came up short in their attempt to rally from a stunning two-goal deficit against Everett, who went on to deny Peninsula a third consecutive title in the championship game.

The CCC determined its two entrants into the NAIA national championship tournament with a pair of games at Northwest University, but championship Saturday was a heartbreaking day for the Eagles. The top-seeded women were edged at home by a pair of players from eastern Washington that guided reigning NAIA champion Concordia to a third consecutive conference title. Meanwhile, on the men's side the second-seeded Eagles were beaten in overtime by Corban University. Three players from Idaho factored in the scoring for the Warriors, including a pair of defenders.

Another Idaho native factored in another title elsewhere in the NAIA. Goalkeeper Tanner Horton helped lead McPherson College to the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference championship after an 8-0-1 KCAC season.

Corban and Concordia learned their NAIA tournament opponents Monday along with the Rocky Mountain College and Westminster College of the Frontier Conference, who won the Unaffiliated Group tournament a week prior.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

INW NCAA College Recap – Week Twelve: Washington State upset; Whitworth reaches Sweet 16

 Friday was a stunning night of firsts for Julia Moravec's (Spokane, WA) Seattle University as they stunned 23rd-ranked Washington State at home in the opening round of the NCAA women's tournament. In the lower divisions, the big winner was the Whitworth men who won a tight contest Friday evening and then dominated in the second round the following night to reach the third round of the NCAA Division III tournament.

Meanwhile, Northwest Nazarene's best season in the men's program history came to an end at the hand of perennial power Seattle Pacific in the regional stages of the NCAA Division II tournament.

Similar to Moravec, several other area players helped guide teams to strong results in the opening weekend of tournament play, though they were not able to advance. Puget Sound of the NWC reached the second round and University of Redlands (California) upset a ranked team in their first round games of the Division III tournament.

The Division I men's season also came to a close over the weekend. Locally, Gonzaga finished on a positive note.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Gonzaga men finish season with victory over Portland

The Gonzaga Bulldogs finished a disappointing season on a good note, avoiding a loss on the final day of the season to the Pilots, who were looking to avoid a winless conference campaign. The Zags rallied from a first half Portland goal, grabbing a 2-1 victory in overtime.

Midfielder Lars Ludwigs was buzzing Saturday. He was constantly threatening the Pilots goal with several chances throughout the game before finding the winner early in extra time, sending the seniors out with a victory. Clark Phillips gave them the opportunity for the win with an equalizer early in the second half.

Friday, November 14, 2014

CC Spokane women, North Idaho College men headed to NWAC Final Four

After dominant campaigns in the East Division of the Northwest Athletic Conference and victories over impressive teams in arguably the toughest set of quarterfinals, the CC Spokane women and the North Idaho College men are headed to Tukwila Friday to play in the league's Final Four at the Starfire Sports Complex Saturday and Sunday.

For the Sasquatch, it is nothing new as the team has been a perennial power in the East Division and is back for the third time in five years, reaching the championship game two years ago. The Cardinal are in the Final Four for the sixth consecutive time; though this appearance comes after a nine-year absence from the NWAC.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

INW Best XI - Week 11: Idaho State's Ellsworth, Rocky Mountain's Clancy post big playoff performances in Montana

Ultimately, Amanda Ellsworth and Idaho State came up just shy as the fifth seed of winning the Big Sky Conference tournament, but the star striker scored three huge goals in leading the Bengals to a pair of upset victories, including a semifinal win against the conference unbeaten and host University of Montana in Missoula. Further east in Billings, Rocky Mountain College was playing host to the NAIA Unaffiliated Group tournament which both sides reached the final of. Leading the men to the championship was midfielder Jack Clancy, who led them to an overtime win in the first round, a one-goal victory in the semifinals and tallied the lone goal in the championship game against rival Great Falls, who swept them during an unbeaten conference campaign.

INW NAIA & NWAC College Recap – Week Eleven: Rocky Mountain spoils Great Falls season; North Idaho men knock off Peninsula

It was a busy week of tournament action, for the most part.

In the NAIA's Cascade Collegiate Conference, the College of Idaho ladies saw their season come to an end at home in the opening round at the hands of Warner Pacific with the top seeds Northwest University and Concordia eventually moving onto the final.

In the NAIA Unaffiliated Group tournament featuring the Frontier Conference contingent, host Rocky Mountain College saw both sides reach the finals. The second-seeded ladies advanced past Carroll via penalties but came up short in overtime against top-seeded Westminster while the fourth-seeded Bears upset University of Jamestown in a thrilling comeback performance in the semifinal and spoiled the unbeaten conference season of Great Falls in the championship game.

In the Northwest Athletic Conference, the East's lower seeds had a tough time advancing. The Treasure Valley women were the lone survivors of the first round, courtesy of penalties. Overall, the division winners were the dominant teams on the week with all four moving on in the women's bracket and three of four in the men's, including the East's CC Spokane women, who blanked the league's top offense, and North Idaho College men, who ended the dominant run of reigning two-time champion Peninsula.