2016-2017 Team Recaps

In Latest News, Sports by Griffin Aseltine

Women’s Soccer:

 

While not as successful as recent years, Tim Hall’s ninth season as head coach was still a solid one for the women’s soccer team. Propelled by a seven-game winning streak and an eight-game shutout streak over the course of October, the team finished with a 10-4-4 record, a 19+ goal differential (29-10) and a PacWest record of 8-3-2, good for a fifth-place finish in the conference. Most of the team’s success can be attributed to PLNU’s home crowd, as the team managed a 7-1-1 record at home compared to an evenly split 3-3-3 on the road. At the conclusion of the season, there were seven team members who received All-PacWest honors: senior forward Cori Deason (first team), senior midfielder Rachel Witz (first team), sophomore defender Keagan Bolibol (first team), junior defender Morgan Pearce (second team), senior goalkeeper Ariel Oriarte (second team), freshman midfielder Sarah Steinhaus (third team), and junior midfielder Sami Swanson (third team). For the first time since beginning PacWest play, the team did not qualify for NCAA West Regional play, but returning to such a level in the near future shouldn’t be a steep climb for this group.

Final Grade: A-

 

Men’s Soccer:

 

After a 3-5-3 start to the season, Phil Wolf’s fifth season as head coach appeared to be a lost cause. That is, until the team finished the year with a 6-0-1 run, boosting the squad to a final record of 9-5-4, an 8+ goal differential (26-18), and an 8-4-1 record in the PacWest. This ultimately led the team to a third-place finish in the conference. Composed mostly of returning upperclassmen, the roster included four team members who received All-PacWest honors: senior forward Nico Tagaloa (second team), senior defender Tyler Allen (second team), junior midfielder Eduardo Gallardo (second team), and junior midfielder Mitch Wheelon (third team). The team is still seeking its first appearance in NCAA West Regional play, but with back-to-back adequate seasons under the belt, such an accomplishment should be within reach over the next couple years.

 

Final Grade: B+

 

Men’s Basketball:

 

Last year, the season ended on a sour note with a 2-7 run that knocked the team down to a losing record and ultimately out of PacWest contention. This year, Ryan Looney’s first season as head coach would be one to remember, and hopefully the start of a promising future. After a sluggish 5-6 start, the turning point came just after Christmas with a five-game winning streak, the longest in two years. From there, the team finished 15-12 and 11-9 in the conference, clinching the No. 6 seed in the PacWest Championships. In a stunning postseason run, the Sea Lions knocked off both the No. 3 seed Dixie State and the No. 2 seed California Baptist each by a single possession, reaching the PacWest Championship for the first time in school history. Unfortunately, a title was not meant to be, as they fell 82-73 to the No. 1 seed Hawaii Pacific. Nevertheless, the potential for this team is most certainly present, and the future is likely to have success with Looney at the helm.

 

Final Grade: A-

 

Women’s Volleyball:

 

Coming off of back-to-back 19-9 and 20-10 seasons over the course of Jonathan Scott’s first two years as head coach, the 2016 season seemed to have significant promise. That was, unfortunately, far from the case. Following a season plagued by season-ending injuries, an 11-18 overall record and a 9-11 in the PacWest was the team’s worst in Scott’s tenure and the worst since 2012. One highlight of an otherwise dismal season was the dominance of senior defensive specialist Christin Fisher, who broke the records for most digs in a single match (40 at Domincan) and most digs in a career (2,200). Fisher also earned SDHOC November Star of the Month, as well as PacWest special honors along with junior teammate Brianna Sizemore. After the conclusion of the season, the Sea Lions signed seven high school recruits. With a relatively large recruiting class, the team can hope to see a positive direction moving forward.

 

Final Grade: C+

 

Women’s Basketball:

 

In perhaps one of the most dominant seasons in school history, Lisa Faulkner made an immediate impact in her first season as head coach. Sparked by an 18-1 run from the start of December to the end of of February, the team finished 23-4 with a 17-3 record in the conference. Even the record does not do the team justice, however, as all of their losses were by single-digits, while 14 of their wins were by a margin of 20 or more points. In addition to a 9-2 record on the road, the team dominated particularly on their home floor, winning 14 out of 15 matchups in the Golden Gymnasium. For the 2016-17 season, it is safe to say that the women’s basketball team was the most accomplished PLNU team of the entire year. They were able to accomplish almost everything, except for defeating California Baptist. Running into what was essentially their kryptonite, the team went 0-4 against California Baptist throughout the year, including once in the PacWest Championship and once at nationals. For that reason, the most accomplished PLNU team of the year must settle for a less-than-perfect score.

 

Final Grade: A

 

Men’s Tennis:

 

After a 12-13 season in 2016 that ended with a consolation title, the men’s tennis team was looking for improvement under head coach Curt Wheeler’s third season. Unfortunately, after losing four seniors and bringing in four freshmen to adjust to the eight-man roster, the transition did not look pretty. An 0-6 start to the season eventually resulted in a less-than-stellar 5-19 record. The few bright spots included a seventh-place finish at PacWest Championships after defeating Sonoma State, a team that they managed to dominate in the regular season by winning 17 out of 18 singles and doubles matchups. Of their 19 losses, five were by only a single matchup, and none of their victories were decided by such a margin. With no seniors, continuity will likely be a factor in improving upon a brutal season.

 

Final Grade: C-

 

Women’s Tennis:

 

After four seasons of being unable to obtain a winning record, the 2017 women’s tennis team broke the streak with a successful 17-9 season that included a 6-1 start, an 11-3 record at home, and five dominant 9-0 sweeps. In addition, four of their nine losses were by a single matchup. While it was the most successful regular season in several years for PLNU women’s tennis, the results at PacWest Championships don’t do the season justice. A seventh-place finish in the conference sounds underwhelming given the team’s No. 19 national ranking and 15-7 record in the regular season. They were, however, ranked No. 6 in the West prior to the beginning of the tournament, so while the result may seem incomparable to the team’s regular season, it is more than understandable.

 

Final Grade: A-

 

Men’s Baseball:

 

Coming off a 32-16 season in 2016, expectations were most certainly high for Joe Schaefer’s 10th season. Fortunately, key offseason acquisitions have stepped up tremendously for the Sea Lions. Junior transfer Stephen Young has dominated the starting rotation as the consensus ace (6-1, 1.47 ERA), and junior transfer Tyler Flores (.289) along with freshman Micah Pries (.283) have adequately filled the outfield hole that concerned the team before the season began. Unfortunately, the record has not exactly shown improvement for this particular squad in comparison to last season’s phenomenal showing. Currently 24-16 with eight games left to play as of this writing, the season is far from over, but already accumulating as many losses as last season shows that this season won’t be quite the step-up that was initially hoped for.

 

Current Grade: B+

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