Thursday, November 30, 2023

In another incredible fall for Spokane Sounders alumni among the college ranks 15 players were recognized with conference honors following their campaigns this year as many made history or postseason runs with their schools.

We will start close to home where Gonzaga, Idaho and CC Spokane made headlines this season. WCC Second Team selection Chelsea Le helped Gonzaga claim their first-ever WCC Championship and reach the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time along with fellow alumni Kyah Le, Makayla Werner, Emily Todd and Abbie Sicilia. The Zags picked up that first tournament victory against Idaho, which was making its tourney debut after winning the Big Sky tourney for the first time, surviving a 1-0 affair in which Big Sky Second Team selection Margo Schoesler nearly tied it up. It was her second along with a previous Honorable Mention selection. Maddy Lasher also saw significant time in the game for the Vandals.

Defending NWAC champion CC Spokane claimed the East title this season and advanced to defend the crown – falling in overtime to Columbia Basin – behind the efforts of NWAC All-Stars Reese Walker and Gracie Reidt. Elise Jones, Kaiti Low, Aubrey Thomas and Karlee Whitehead also contributed for the Bigfoot.

Also in town, both Whitworth programs had excellent campaigns in 2023. The men were contenders late into the season with Clayton Crockett and Eric Shaporda receiving Northwest Conference Second Team selections. The ladies were represented by Emmy Moore on the First Team and Baylee Trejo on the Second Team.

Travelling across the state to the west side, a number of players were also honored. Leading Pacific Lutheran to the NWC’s league title again was now two-time Defensive Player of the Year Cole Dobson. It was also his third First Team selection. Both Dobson and fellow Lute Olivia Olson were knocked out of the NCAA DIII tournament in the first round after a PLU sweep of the NWC titles.

Seattle Pacific claimed the GNAC regular season title yet again thanks to a quartet of players, three of whom were honored. Marissa Bankey was named First Team, Mercedes Cullen Second Team and Chloe Gellhaus Honorable Mention. All three were previously recognized in past seasons. The trio along with Erika Frahm advanced in the NCAA DII tournament with a third-round clash against fellow club alum Zoe Crockett (Point Loma), who advanced to the Sweet 16 with a win in the West Region Final. Also recognized in the GNAC was Gracen Crosby (Western Washington), who was named Second Team after helping lead the Vikings to a second-place finish.

A lot further away from home, it is a story of players at different stages. Taryn Baxter is wrapping up her career as a grad student at Mercyhurst, earning her FOURTH PSAC First Team honor after winning the league championship. Meanwhile freshman Peyton Dixon stood on her head in her debut campaign at Grinnell, earning Goalkeeper of the Year right out of the gate with 12 shutouts in 19 starts and a 0.63 GAA as they finished second in the league.


Bankey was recently also announced as a Second Team selection for the DII Conference Commissioners Association West Region Team – she was a United Soccer Coaches All-Region First Team choice last year. On the other side of the country Taryn Baxter received the identical honor for the Atlantic Region – she was a First Team selection a year ago.

Tourney Time

A number of other previously unmentioned players reached the postseason with their programs this year.

Making a splash at the moment are the Loyola Marymount men, featuring Eli Armstrong. They advanced to the NCAA Elite 8 thanks to an upset win at UCLA and Sweet 16 win against James Madison. Bryce Allred just missed out of making the NCAA tournament after UNLV upset WAC champions Seattle University to reach the league final. Jose Napoles nearly won a second consecutive NWAC Championship at Columbia Basin, but the Hawks were knocked out in the league semifinals after another outstanding East championship season.

A trio of players at Westmont are reached the National Christian College (NCCAA) tournament’s Final Nine event after a first round win. Spencer Crithfield, Donovan Howat and Alex Reyes are enjoying the invitational event following a second-place finish in the PacWest, though the program is currently ineligible to participate in the postseason. In Florida they swept their two group games and added a semifinal victory to reach the championship game.

Lizzy Gresch and Benedictine reached the NAIA Sweet 16 after a fantastic season and a pair of NAIA wins, including a 1-0 upset against host Columbia in Missouri. Knocked out of the tournament were Grace Martinson and Ella Carnahan of Embry-Riddle AU.

Coming oh so close to the postseason was Alaina O’Connell as her CSU San Bernardino side finished just one point out of the running and Timmy Jones, whose Wheaton side finished as the CCIW regular season runners-up.

And to cap it all Jeff Robbins, Associate Head Coach at Clemson, has his Tigers playing in the College Cup Final Four in Cary, NC. Robbins was the GM of the USL PDL Shadow in the early years and helped found the youth side of the club in 1999.


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