The Seattle University’s men’s soccer team won the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Championship Tournament for the third time in five years. The Redhawks previously won the WAC tournament in 2013 and 2015.
The games took place Wednesday, Nov. 8 through Sunday, Nov. 12. The tournament was hosted by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) at Johann Memorial Field.
Men’s soccer celebrates winning the WAC Championship.
The Redhawks began their championship run with a 3-0 win over California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB). All three goals were scored by different players, with freshman Habib Barry scoring the first goal just before the end of the first half. Freshman Gabriel Ruiz and junior Sergio Rivas wasted no time in furthering this lead, coming out at the beginning of the second half and scoring in both the 47th and 48th minutes to put Seattle University up 3-0.
“We’ve always trusted our freshmen. If they’re good enough to play, they’ll play,” men’s head Soccer coach Pete Fewing said of the two freshmen who scored goals in the first match. “They all play with a lot of confidence and look experienced even though they are pretty young.”
The Redhawks dominated this match, with CSUB only managing to get off one shot on goal throughout the entirety of the game. The Redhawks would move on to face hometown Rebels of UNLV in the semifinals, who had defeated the 7th seeded Grand Canyon University (GCU) in their own first round match.
The semi finals were unlike the one-sided affair of the first round. The Redhawks and Rebels went 0-0 in regular time and overtime, even though Seattle U was playing with only 10 men due to a red card given at the beginning of the second half. The match would be decided on penalty kicks, which Seattle University would win 4-2.
Redhawks goalkeeper, Josh Adachi, who only allowed a single goal the entire tournament, was pivotal throughout the entirety of the Redhawks championship run, but may have had the biggest impact of any player in the semifinals against UNLV. Adachi, a redshirt junior, made five saves in what was a scoreless match. He had an especially vital stop off of a UNLV corner kick at the end of double overtime.
In penalties, he was able to come up with two stops. Fewing drew a parallel to last year’s MLS Cup Champion Seattle Sounders and the save made by their goalkeeper Stefan Frei in penalty kicks. “Frei makes that great save and that did two things, it gave him a lot of confidence and put doubt in Toronto’s mind. Josh Adachi did the exact same thing to UNLV,” Fewing said. The Redhawks penalty takers came in to back Adachi up, with Rivas burying his shot with ease.
“Their guy hit one to the right, kind of tucked it in. Alex Roldan went to the exact same spot, but smashed it which sent a message as well.” Fewing said, showing just how much of a mental game soccer can become, especially in penalty kicks. Anthony Ayala answered and smoothly put his kick in before Adachi made his second save. Cody Buchanan, who did not play all match, had his first touch of the ball when he came up in penalties and scored the game winner to send Seattle U to the finals.
The Redhawks would be met in the finals by San Jose State University (SJSU), who defeated the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in the first round and top seeded Air Force in the semifinals. The Redhawks struck first with junior Nathan Aune’s header in the 35th minute to give Seattle U a 1-0 advantage at the end of the first half. Only a minute after the goal, a SJSU foul resulted in a red card being given to each team.
Taking the field in the second half, the Redhawks added on with a goal in the 74th minute by senior Alex Roldan. Rivas assisted on both of the Redhawks goals. The Spartans would score in the last five minutes of the game, but it would not be enough to take the title from the Redhawks. Adachi, a native of Pearl City Hawaii, continued his strong performance all tournament long into the finals in which he allowed only a single goal to the SJSU Spartans.
After the match, he was awarded MVP honors for his strong and reliable play throughout the entire tournament. Aune, Roldan and Rivas were chosen to the all-tournament team.
On Monday, Nov. 13, it was announced that Seattle U would go into the NCAA tournament and in the first round will face the University of Washington.
“It’s going to be a very exciting game, especially since we’ve already played them and sold out our Seattle U stadium,” Rivas said. “They’re a great team and I feel that we’ll have a really good game.” The Redhawks lost their match against the Huskies earlier this season 2-0, but Fewing pointed out that “we outshot them 13 to 8, we had more opportunities.”
The match between the two Seattle-based teams will be held Thursday, Nov. 16 at 6:00 p.m. at Husky Soccer Stadium.
The editor may be reached at