Saturday, October 31, 2015

High School Girls Update - October 31: Halloween high school playoffs today

The last of the leagues that were in play wrapped things up on Thursday, and now everyone has entered the postseason (see brackets below). Most of the leagues feature postseason contests for Halloween, which will certainly lead to some cheesy, ghoulish headlines should surprises play out.

NAIA Cascade Conference Round-Up: Playoff fields taking shape

Carroll locked up the regular season title on the women's side in the first season of the newly expanded league with a pair of victories in western Oregon on the week and another Frontier side, Rocky Mountain College, secured the top spot on the mens side with a win and a draw on the road.

With a few more of the eight conference tournament berths still up for grabs going into this week's action, three other programs from the region are among the six teams that had secured berths as of last week's play with College of Idaho, Eastern Oregon and Rocky Mountain headed to the postseason.

Seeding is all that is left to be settled on the men's side with all entrants determined after last week's play. Great Falls, Carroll and the College of Idaho will be joining RMC in the postseason field.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Division II & III Round-Up: Whitworth men suffer first loss, MSUB sides split

The dominant Whitworth Pirates were handed their first NWC defeat last weekend, dropping a 2-0 contest on the road to second-place Pacific Lutheran that tightened up the race for the league championship going into the final weeks. They rebounded for a narrow victory the next day at Puget Sound in what is arguably their toughest road trip annually.

On the ladies side of things, the Whitworth women played to a pair of draws to build themselves a three-game unbeaten run while their regional foe Whitman is continuing to find semi-positive results despite a lack of offense, getting a win and a draw that makes them 1-1-5 in their last seven outings.

Meanwhile, in the GNAC it was an interesting week for MSU-BIllings on the road. The women and men combined for four 1-0 contests last weekend, each earning a split in their road trips.

The Northwest Nazarene also split, dropping the second game to Seattle Pacific, which continues to hold onto the league lead. On the ladies side Central Washington tied third-place Seattle Pacific and defeated Simon Fraser to keep themselves in the hunt for third in the conference.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Barmes' Bullpups transformed to GSL champs in two years

Gonzaga Prep surprised everyone this season. Not only did the Bullpups end a three-year series of identical 5-4 records by reaching the top of the Greater Spokane League table, but they did so in convincing fashion by running the slate at 9-0.

Tonight, the ladies at G-Prep face the reigning two-time state and GSL champion Central Valley Bears in the district semifinals with a chance to lock up a state berth.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

High School Girls Update - October 27: Postseason kicking off for GSL, MCC

With the regular season titles and top seeds for the 3A and 4A classifications already locked up in both leagues, things wrapped up rather quietly in the Greater Spokane League Friday and Mid Columbia Conference Saturday... aside from seniors celebrating their final home games.

Division I Round-up: Idaho wins conference title; Big Sky and MWC tourneys nearly set

Still showing their doubters wrong, the Idaho Vandals - picked ninth in the preseason - poll now have nine wins on the season after downing North Dakota and second-place Northern Colorado over the weekend to clinch the regular season Big Sky Conference title and right to host the league tournament. Meanwhile, their neighbors up the road at Eastern Washington - chosen seventh - are also continuing their strong showing, playing to a draw against Northern Colorado and getting a win against North Dakota to pull into a tie for second.

Eastern Washington tops North Dakota, moves back into second

Full INWsn match gallery [+]
The Eastern Washington Eagles put together a great game Sunday with a 2-1 victory over visiting North Dakota, moving the Eagles slightly up the table into a tie with Northern Colorado, which they played to a road draw with on the road Friday, for second place in the league with a game remaining.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

NWAC East Round-Up: CC Spokane sweeps Wenatchee Valley; division races still tight

Full INWsn women's match gallery [+]
The Bigfoot of CC Spokane dominated the competition Wednesday evening in a doubleheader that saw them outscore Wenatchee Valley by a combined 17-1 scoreline. The ladies kicked off the night with a 12-0 victory in which Alysha Overland broke the program's single-season scoring record and the men rallied in the second match for a 5-1 victory over the Knights.

Friday, October 23, 2015

NAIA Cascade Conference Round-Up: Carroll squads sweep

The Saints of Carroll College had a big week, sweeping their opposition from Evergreen State College and Northwest University, keeping the men's squad in postseason contention and maintaining the top spot in the league on the women's side.

It was also a good week for the ladies this side of the Cascades for contenders College of Idaho and Eastern Oregon. The Yotes swept Warner Pacific and nearby Eastern Oregon to nab sole possession second in the table. The Mountaineers won their opener against third-place Rocky Mountain on the road before playing to a stalemate at College of Idaho that went to overtime before the Yotes prevailed.

The Rocky Mountain men, meanwhile, dominated Eastern Oregon and Warner Pacific to maintain their one-loss record at the top of the table along with Corban, which kept pace with two wins of their own.  

High School Girls Update - October 23: G-Prep clinches GSL, Idaho semis set

Gonzaga Prep locked up the Greater Spokane League regular season title with a stunning 5-0 victory Wednesday over second-place Mead with the final night of games remaining Friday. The Bullpups are nearly perfect with a shootout win within its 8-0 record. The rest of the league, meanwhile, features a jumble of teams from second to sixth that are separated by six points, including 3A school Mt Spokane, which has locked up the top spot in their classification.

Regular Season GSL Champion Bullpups (courtesy GPHS)
In the lower classifications, the race remains close for the top two in the Great Northern League and Northeast A League. After dropping a point in a shootout win to Clarkston Tuesday, West Valley rebounded with a win in their finale Thursday to join East Valley at the top of the table on points, leaving things up to Saturday's final game between the Knights and host Clarkston. In the NEA, Deer Park leads Freeman by three points with the two set to meet at Deer Park in the season finale. Before then the league-leaders have any easy foe in Colville while Freeman plays takes on Lakeside, who handed them their other league defeat.

Elsewhere on this side of the state the only real surprise came Thursday amidst a Columbia Basin Big Nine trio of 3-1 results. Sunnyside picked up its first victory of the season against fellow cellar dweller Eisenhower, moving out of the last-place spot based on points with the two now tied at 1-9 on the year. West Valley (Yakima) remains perfect at 10-0 in the 4A Big Nine while 3A Southridge is comfortably in front at 12-1 in the Mid Columbia Conference and further down the table 4A Chiawana is assured the top spot in its classification as the league hits the field for the regular season finales Saturday. The Big Nine wraps things up next week with two more game days.

Across the border, Idaho kicked off the state playoffs Thursday. Most of the district-winners from the Inland Empire League and Intermountain league advanced to the semifinals with victories in the opening round. The IEL5 winners from Lake City advanced with the boys downing Boise 2-1 and the girls topping Rocky Mountain 4-3. Play-in winner Coeur d'Alene dropped a 1-0 contest to Centennial.

The IEL4 schools split as the Lakeland boys blew by Blackfoot 4-0 and reigning two-time state champion Sandpoint were unable to survive penalty kicks, falling 3-1 in the tiebreaker after a scoreless draw against Century to end hopes of a three-peat. Unexpected district runner-up and play-in winner as the IEL third-seed, the Moscow boys side was knocked into the consolation portion of the bracket with 2-0 defeat to Century.

Intermountain boys runners-up and district tournament champion Bonners Ferry was handily dispatched 6-0 by Community. Meanwhile, the top two girls sides from the Intermountain League moved on with champion Timberlake downing Community 2-1 and CDA Charter edging Shelley 3-2 to keep alive their chances to repeat after claiming the region's first girls 3A title a year ago. The two Intermountain League sides will now square off for a spot in the state final.

The teams that lost on opening day Thursday are now in the consolation half of the bracket, and have a chance to continue playing for fifth in state.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Division II & III Round-Up: MSU-Billings climbs into GNAC men's title race

The Yellowjackets of MSU-Billings avenged their earlier loss to Northwest Nazarene as part of a weekend sweep that put them past the Crusaders and in second place in the GNAC over the weekend, sitting just three points back of Seattle Pacific.

On the women's side, MSUB split and the Central Washington Wildcats nabbed an overtime road victory against NNU Saturday, but the two sides had lost two days prior, leaving them mired at the middle of the table.

The Whitworth men, meanwhile, continue to dominate the Northwest Conference. They showed Saturday that their previous misstep in a draw at George Fox was an aberration, drubbing the Bruins 6-0 Saturday thanks, in part, to a hat-trick from Karl Muelheims. The hometown senior also went on to repeat the feat the following day against Pacific.

On the women's side of the conference, the struggles continued for Whitworth and Whitman. After the two sides played to a scoreless stalemate midweek, the Pirates remained on the road and dropped a game against George Fox before rebounding for a narrow win against Pacific to stay mid-table while Whitman continues to be mired in the basement with another scoreless draw and a loss.

Here's a recap of Division II & Division III action for last week:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Division I Round-up: Idaho posts sweep; Spokane duo have big outings

After a series of three 1-0 victories in league play, the Idaho Vandals have added some offense in their repertoire, scoring four goals in both matches over the weekend to give them three consecutive games with at least three goals. The Vandals dominated Southern Utah and preseason favorite Northern Arizona by a combined 8-1 scoreline to improve to 7-0-0 for the year.

Boise State split their final two games of the season at home - though one was moved off-campus - and the rest of the area programs had a rough outing as Gonzaga and Washington State teams went winless.

It was a good week, however, for a pair of players from Spokane with Kara Marbury guiding Illinois to a big win in a return from a concussion and Julia Moravec played a big role in a pair of wins for Seattle University.

Here is a round-up of the action last week:

High School Update - October 20: League races enter final days; Idaho state tourneys set

There were some intriguing matches in the Greater Spokane League, Mid-Columbia Conference and Columbia Basin Big Nine in the second half of last week, but the more interesting pair of results, arguably, were the two from West Valley in the 3A Great Northern League.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Muelheims guides Whitworth to big weekend sweep

Full INWsn match gallery [+] 
Two weeks ago, the perfect Pirates of Whitworth were handed their first blemish of the season on the road by George Fox with a 1-1 draw. They finished the first half of the Northwest Conference campaign 6-0-1 a week later. On Saturday they opened the second half of their league slate against the Bruins and made a huge statement with a thoroughly dominant performance that finished in a 6-0 scoreline. On Sunday they followed it up with a 3-0 win. Oh, and Karl Muelheims netted a hat-trick in both matches.

NWAC East Update: Spokane men tie rival Walla Walla 2-2, hold first with unbeaten week

Having recently moved into the top spot in a men's NWAC East Division that nobody seemed to want to take control of, CC Spokane went into a Wednesday night showdown with heated rival Walla Walla and rallied from a goal down on two occasions to earn a draw on the night.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Catching Up: Round-Up for new-look Cascade Conference

Now officially conference foes, schools from the Frontier Conference now members of CCC
With the conference tournament coming up in about a month, the first year of the new-look Cascade Collegiate Conference has been quite intriguing with the new additions from the Frontier Conference playing a big role in the title chases. On the men's side two teams are in the top four and on the women's side three of the top four are newcomers.

In case you missed it, the CCC officially accepted teams from the smaller Frontier Conference into the fold in February as Associate Members for soccer and softball. Carroll College, Rocky Mountain College and the University of Great Falls had been competing among the unaffiliated groups in the NAIA for postseason and regular season.

After years of non-conference games - including the Red Lion Challenge held in Spokane in 2012 and 2013 - against their neighbors from the west, the trio from Montana became members of the league this season, creating a simpler and more robust conference schedule. The first official games between schools from the two conferences on September 11 marked the end of a lengthy process that began two years earlier.

"The conversations really began back in August of 2013 when the NAIA held a "West Coast Summit" to address issues NAIA schools face in the west," Cascade Conference Commissioner Robert Cashell told INWsoccernews in February. "From that a task force was developed and the legislation to allow for per-sport membership among conferences was crafted. Along with the legislation, conferences needed to to have the mechanisms in place through bylaws if they had a desire to accept associate membership applications.

"The CCC established the necessary processes last summer after the legislation passed. We received applications the end of October of 2014 and our AD's and others have been reviewing. Ultimately was up for a President's vote."

Cashell and Frontier Conference Commissioner Kent Paulson played key roles in making changes in the NAIA rules to pave the way for the changes.

"The discussions of Associate Membership for softball and soccer was a nearly three-year process," Paulson told INWsn in February. "Rob Cashell and I sponsored some initial legislation to the National Administrative Council some two-plus years ago that didn’t pass due to some legislation that was in place but it did pave the way for the legislative changes that were passed by the NAIA body at the 2014 National Convention. This legislation was co-sponsored by our conferences along with others and presented by Rob Cashell representing the CCC."

The move of the Frontier teams into the CCC could be the beginning of a wave of Affiliated Memberships throughout the NAIA, which features quite a large contingent of teams in sports outside of football and basketball that are considered unaffiliated due to a lack of teams in their home conference.

"I see this as a positive opportunity for the advancement of student-athlete’s in many conferences throughout the NAIA," Paulson said of the NAIA's rule changes. "I think that these positive arrangements will be utilized in a number of sports depending on the needs of the various conferences involved."

Though Cashell did not feel the Red Lion Challenge -- a series of non-conference soccer, basketball and volleyball games held in Spokane as a neutral location -- between the two conferences played a role in furthering the process, Paulson did feel it helped prepare for the upcoming change.

"I think it had a lot to do with shaping the foundation for our presentation of granting Associative Membership for other sports in addition to football within the NAIA. I know that it has also developed increased scheduling alliances between the FC and the CCC in other sports such as basketball and volleyball as well."

The merger came at a time when there were also several other changes for both conferences.

For the Frontier contingent, it's only the second year for the Carroll men's program and Westminster (Salt Lake City) departed for NCAA DII.

"Westminster College officially notified our league of their intention to leave the NAIA and the Frontier Conference in June of 2013," said Paulson. "Had they elected to stay, they too would have made application to be considered as part of our group seeking Associate Membership in the CCC."

Meanwhile, the membership in the CCC was already seeing some major changes. Powerhouse Concordia departed for the NCAA DII GNAC while Southern Oregon and Eastern Oregon were adding men's programs. The conference had also approved the previous summer Walla Walla University and Multnomah University as new members. WWU and MU are only fielding men's teams for soccer.

Here is a look at the season up to this point:

High School Girls Update - October 15: Idaho playoffs in full swing

Surprise results continue to come in for the Greater Spokane League. This week, winless Lewis & Clark downed Mt Spokane in a shootout Wednesday after a 1-1 draw. In a showdown of contenders, Ferris rallied from a two-goal deficit at home to defeat Mead 3-2. The three other contests were blowout results decided by four goals or more. The race for the regular season title still remains extremely tight with the top five separated by just four points.

In the Great Northern League, second-place East Valley took a 2-1 win over visiting third-place Clarkston Tuesday in a close-fought contest. It bumped the Knights into first over idle rival West Valley, whom they will square off against this Saturday in a game that could play a big role in deciding the league title.

Outside of the Spokane area, there was plenty of action in the MCC and CBB9 Tuesday. No surprise results out of either league, but in a showdown of two top Tri-Cities sides, Hanford prevailed in a shootout after a 2-2 draw against Kamiakin for sole possession of second in the MCC behind Southridge.

Meanwhile, across the border in Idaho, three of the four Inland Empire League's regional champions for Districts I & II have been determined with the fourth set for Thursday afternoon.

Advancing to the state tournament out of the 5A are the Lake City boys and girls. The boys advanced with a convincing 4-0 win against Coeur d'Alene and the ladies also downed their local rival, 4-1, to move on. The two CDA sides are still alive, however, and will compete in a play-in contest Saturday in Lewiston against the fifth-placed team coming out of District III of the Boise area.

Sandpoint defeated Lakeland, 2-1, in the 4A girls regional final to return to the state tournament and defend their two consecutive Idaho titles. The top-seeded Lakeland boys take on Moscow, which used a shootout win to upset Sandpoint in the first round of regionals after a 1-1 draw. The runners-up from the regionals will also feature in a play-in game, taking on the third-place school out of District III.

Further south in District III where the regional tournament has been plagued by delays due to smoky air quality from remaining wildfires, the championship games for 5A and 4A have been determined for Friday. The matches that will determine who the play-in opponents for the DI-II winners are also scheduled for Friday. (link includes District III 4A & 5A brackets)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Division II & III Round-Up: Rough road trip for NNU keeps GNAC men's race wide open

The Northwest Nazarene men were off to a fantastic start in the GNAC, but a two-game trip to face Simon Fraser north of the border and Western Washington on the way back kept the door ajar for the other title contenders. Simon Fraser used a victory Thursday to help keep them in the mix after a win and draw on the week. Then a dramatic overtime loss to the Vikings allowed perennial power Seattle Pacific to slip back in the driver's seat atop the conference with their sweep of MSU-Billings and Mary on the week. Newcomer Concordia also remains in the mix with just one loss, playing to a scoreless draw at Simon Fraser after a draw against the Vikings.

On the ladies side of things in the GNAC, the MSU-Billings Yellowjackets also slipped in the table on the road, going from one loss to three by dropping a close-fought contest to Northwest Nazarene before being shutout by league-leading Western Washington.

Meanwhile, the NWC hit the halfway mark in league play. On the men's side Whitworth finished a nearly perfect first run through the conference with a victory over local rival Whitman while on the ladies side the Pirates and Missionaries continue to struggle, though it was Whitman that picked up a point on the week with a draw against Lewis & Clark.

Here's a recap of Division II & Division III action for last week

High School Girls Update - October 13

Going into this week's matches, the biggest storyline continues to be down south in the Mid-Columbia Conference where the trio of 3A teams - Southridge, Kamiakin and Hanford - are dominating the league and only one 4A school has an even record.

The classifications are holding up for the most part in the Greater Spokane League where Mt Spokane is the lone 3A school in the upper half of the table, sitting fourth with one loss and within two points of league-leading Gonzaga Prep. The Wildcats upset previous leaders Ferris 3-2 last Wednesday in the league's last day of action. Five teams are now separated by just four points in the race for the league title.

Nearby, Deer Park's domination of the Northeast A League was also put to an end last week when Riverside handed them a 3-1 road loss last Thursday evening, opening the door back up to the regular season title in the NEA.

In the Great Northern League, the race for the league's top spot looks to be coming down to Spokane Valley rivals West Valley and East Valley. Both enter the week with just one loss and will meet again on Saturday. The EV Knights took the first match, 3-2, on the first of the month.

West Valley - of Yakima - is atop the Columbia Basin Big Nine with a perfect record through six games, but one-loss Wenatchee and 5-2 Moses Lake are in reach in the 4A league.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Division I Round-up: Vandals grab Big Sky lead; WSU & BSU sweep

Unbeaten a year ago, the Montana Grizzlies know how difficult maintaining that status is and were in position to knock both Big Sky leaders Eastern Washington and Idaho off their perfect league starts and put themselves back in the conference title picture in the process. It took overtime, but Montana was able to prevail at home against the Eagles, but the second half of the two-game dip was a bit tougher as they fell on the road, leaving the Vandals - picked ninth in the preseason coaches poll - in sole possession of first place.

Meanwhile, the Washington State women posted a pair of road victories in Utah and Colorado to remain second in the Pac-12 and Boise State posted a pair of convincing wins as well at home and on the road in the Mountain West to even out their record.

The Gonzaga women split in their two-game trip to California with a loss and a draw while the Bulldog men opened conference play with a 2-1 victory at Portland.

Here is a round-up of the action last week:

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Whitworth men down local foe Whitman 2-0, conclude first half of campaign nearly perfect

Full gallery INWsn match photos [+] 
The Whitworth men finished the first half of their conference slate with a convincing victory against nearby rival Whitman Saturday afternoon, getting a 2-0 victory against the Missionaries in a game in which the Pirates controlled the possession by a vast margin and the visitors were allowed very few chances.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Division II & III Round-Up: NNU men grab control of GNAC, Whitworth avoids upset

The Northwest Nazarene Crusaders picked up two more victories to remain unbeaten in the conference, using a narrow 1-0 win Saturday over fellow unbeaten MSU-Billings to grow their league lead with powerhouse Seattle Pacific suffering their first defeat of the season to Simon Fraser the same day.

On the women's side, MSU-Billings is proving to be the best of the area trio but were only able to earn a split on the weekend, receiving their first loss courtesy of Simon Fraser as well. Central Washington broke through with six goals Thursday against Northwest Nazarene only to fall two days later against Western Oregon.

In the Northwest Conference, the Whitworth men continue to impress. The road trip to Oregon was a tough one to finish though as a 3-0 win at Pacific was followed by a nail-biter at George Fox that finished 1-1 in which they allowed their first goal in six league matches and dropped their first points.

On the women's side, the Whitworth women have joined Whitman in heartbreak. Both sides are doing well defensively, but are struggling to find the back of the net at the other end. They tallied one goal between them in four close contests against visiting Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound on the weekend.

Here's a recap of Division II & Division III action for last week

Monday, October 5, 2015

Division I Round-up: Eastern Washington, Idaho continue to roll

The inland northwest duo of Eastern Washington and Idaho continue to be the big story among the Division I contingent as the Cinderella sides, ranked seventh and ninth respectively in the preseason polls, are still unbeaten after four games and lead the Big Sky Conference. The two sides posted victories at home over the duo of Sacramento State, who went into the weekend also 2-0-0, and Portland State.

Across the border from the Vandals, the Cougars split their weekend homestand, falling in a narrow 1-0 decision to a USC side led by their former coach and winning a wild back-and-forth affair with UCLA, 4-2.

Back north in Spokane, the Gonzaga women also split their two home contests as they opened play in the West Coast Conference, which saw all but one women's game on opening weekend decided by one goal. The lady Zags nearly got a surprise result against sixth-ranked BYU in a 1-0 loss before rebounding with a win against San Diego.

On the men's side, Gonzaga earned a split on a travel-heavy road trip to play Bradley and eighth-ranked Denver, where they dropped another tight contest.

Here is a round-up of the action last week:

High School Girls Update - October 5

Here is a look around the leagues for Eastern & Central Washington.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Whitworth women fall 1-0 to Puget Sound

Full INWsn photo gallery [+]
After a three-game win streak to move atop the Northwest Conference table, the Whitworth women dropped their second straight game by a 1-0 score Saturday against visiting Puget Sound.