GCU men’s soccer still No. 1; women fall from top spot

Grand Canyon University had both of its soccer teams sitting atop the Pac West Conference standings.  Until last weekend, that is, when BYU-Hawaii came calling.

The men’s team beat BYU-Hawaii in Thursday’s match, 4-0, and then again on Saturday in a much tighter 4-3 win.  Those victories bring the season record to 7-0-1 overall and 6-0-0 in conference, to enable the Antelopes to remain in first place in the PacWest.

Saturday’s win also extended the ‘Lopes unbeaten streak to 11 games, stretching back into last season.

However, the women’s team encountered a much more determined BYU-Hawaii squad, as they tied the first game and lost the second.  Saturday’s loss enabled BYU-Hawaii to climb over the No. 1 ‘Lopes in the conference standings to take possession of first place.

GCU drops to 6-2-1 overall and 4-1-1 in conference play, while the Seasiders now own a 4-0-1 conference mark to claim the top spot.

For the men, it was sophomore forward Kyle Ciliento who was all over the field, scoring and assisting.  The Pinnacle High School (Phoenix) graduate recorded a hat trick in the Thursday opener, and then gave teammate Pat Perkins an assist on the fourth goal.

In Saturday’s game, Ciliento got the ‘Lopes off to a 2-0 start with a pair of goals by the 47th minute, then gave junior midfielder Cordero Young an assist for another goal, and finally wrapped up the scoring when Young returned the favor and sent a corner kick to Ciliento for a shot that wound up in the left side of the net for the win.

Those three goals by Ciliento put him at the head of the scoring leaders in the PacWest, with 12 on the season.  The hat trick in Thursday’s game was his second so far this year.

Both Ciliento and Young were named to the PacWest Soccer Weekly Top 10 Honor Roll for their performances against BYU-Hawaii.

The ‘Lopes enjoyed a 16-1 advantage in shots in the first game and a 10-5 advantage in the finale.

The women played through two very physical games with the Seasiders, taking the opener to a 2-2 double-overtime draw.  There were 18 fouls called in that game, and another 23 in Saturday’s 2-1 loss.

Junior goalkeeper, Stephanie Phillips, from Corona del Sol High School in Tempe stepped up big in the opener, making five difficult saves to hold off the Seasiders, who had a 21-11 edge in shots and a 4-3 advantage in corner kicks.

Again, the ‘Lopes got a big effort from a couple of local high school recruits.  Veronica Nikas, a freshman forward from Veritas Prep in Scottsdale put the ‘Lopoes on the board first with a header in the 15th minute.  Then, after a couple of BYU scores, Kayla Poe, a senior forward from Dobson High School in Mesa, tied the game in the 77th minute and the 2-2 score held through two overtimes.

In Saturday’s finale, Phillips again recorded five saves.  The second half was an especially busy time in goal, as the Seasiders took 11 of their 15 shots after the half.

BYU took a 2-0 lead and the ‘Lopes didn’t get their first score until the 58th minute, when junior forward Michelle Carels buried a shot in the net from 25 yards out.

Hawaii Pacific arrives tonight for the first of two home matches this week for both the men’s and women’s teams.

The matches are particularly critical for the men, since Hawaii Pacific is looking to knock off the ‘Lopes, just as BYU-Hawaii did to the women.

Hawaii Pacific is 5-0-0 in conference, just one game behind the ‘Lopes.

(Photo: GCU Athletics/Tim Koors)