PLNU Soccer Teams Reach Halfway Point of Season, Look Forward To Finish Strong

Forward Alana Diaz challenging an opponent. Photo courtesy of PLNU Athletics.

Point Loma Nazarene University’s men’s and women’s soccer teams have officially passed the halfway point of their conference seasons. Through six of their 10 PacWest conference matches, the Sea Lions are 5-1 on the men’s side (9-4 overall) and 4-2 on the women’s side (8-3-1 overall).

Along with the teams’ winning records, the squads have earned a combined nine PacWest awards so far. The women’s team has won PacWest Team of the Week, and fourth-year marketing major Emma Thrapp and second-year applied health science major Julia Pinnell have both been PacWest Defender of the Week.

The men’s team has won PacWest Team of the Week twice, and four of the players have won individual PacWest honors. Third-year software engineering major Milo Libby secured a Defender of the Week title. Fifth-year business administration major Austin Lavell, first-year business administration major Elijah Langford and graduate student Marlon Buck all earned Player of the Week awards.

Both soccer teams recently returned from their trips across the Pacific Ocean to face the three Hawaii teams in the conference: Chaminade, Hawaii Pacific and Hawaii Hilo. 

After losing to Biola 3-4 the week prior to the Hawaii trip, men’s head coach Phil Wolf said his guys are a great group, but they have one weakness that has cost them games, including their first — and only — conference loss.

“We are conceding way too many goals,” said Wolf. “Biola was a tough game. We need to try to bounce back going into the Hawaii games.”

And bounce back they did. The men swept the Hawaii teams, outscoring their opponents 8-2. With their win over Hawaii Pacific — their second match on the islands — the Sea Lions took sole possession of first place in the conference. 

The women’s team dropped its first conference match 0-1 against Concordia University Irvine, so heading into the Hawaii games, the Sea Lions knew they would have to stay focused on their goals.

Women’s head coach Kristi Kiely said the team’s two on-field goals are to limit their opponents’ goal scoring and create quality goal chances.

“We’ve done good at reaching our goals, but there’s a finishing element,” said Kiely. “We need to finish the quality chances, especially in hard moments and against top teams, Hilo being one of them.”

Despite falling to Chaminade 1-2 in their first game in Hawaii, the Sea Lions regrouped to beat Hawaii Pacific and finished their quality chances to hand first-place Hilo its first loss of the season. The women are fourth in the conference standings, and Kiely said she is pleased with how the team is progressing. 

“They’re playing some of their best soccer now,” said Kiely. 

The end of the Hawaii games also marks the end of the soccer teams’ month-long stint of away games. The Sea Lions will play the next three of their last four conference matches at home, and both teams haven’t lost a match at home this season.

Wolf said that playing at home is a “big advantage,” and Kiely agreed, noting that the Green Sea, PLNU’s student fan section, plays a huge role in this advantage.

“The Green Sea has been fantastic this year,” said Kiely. “They’ve upped their fanship.”

Thrapp also noted the Green Sea’s impact but added that there’s more that goes into their home-field advantage.

“We think of our field as a very sacred spot,” said Thrapp. “We try and take a lot of pride in that and do it for the teams who were here before. This team has a deep desire to be successful, and keeping that undefeated streak on our field is something that the team as a whole wants.”

Both teams will have the chance to continue their home field undefeated streak on Monday, Oct. 30, against Dominican.