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SFU starting NCAA Div. II soccer nationals following dual conference titles

The Burnaby-based Red Leafs won its first-ever GNAC women's banner, while the men's team was captained by MVP Devin O'Hea.

It's raining Red Leafs at the one of the top levels of university soccer in North America.

Simon Fraser University (SFU) made history last Saturday, Nov. 11, winning both 2023 Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) soccer championships.

This included a first-ever regional title on the women's side, while the men won their eighth GNAC banner in 13 years on home soil.

And the confidence at the Burnaby-based school is running high as both are gearing up for the NCAA Div. II Championships starting tomorrow, Nov. 16.

"I'm so proud of the group," said SFU women's interim head coach Carlo Basso after beating Western Washington by a score of 2-1

"And especially our group, we're a program that wants to be elite. We're a program that wants to grow. And today we made a huge statement by winning our first conference title."

"My expectation is to win every game we're in, no matter who we play against," said SFU men's head coach Clint Schneider looking ahead to the national tournament. The Red Leafs outlasted Northwest Nazarene 5-1 in their GNAC final.

"Our guys, the belief in the group is no matter what state [the opponents] are from, no matter what their record is, our guys believe they're the best team on the pitch every time they play."

Senior forward Devin O'Hea was also named the GNAC Men's Soccer Player of the Year, logging more than 1,400 minutes, tallying nine multi-point games and a run of seven straight matches with a goal.

He was also named to the first team all-conference alongside teammates Michael Hennessy, GNAC freshman of the year, and Niko Papakyriakopoulos, GNAC defensive player of the year.

Isabella Muzzolini was named to the GNAC women's soccer first team all-conference. The junior midfielder scored a goal and added three assists among more than 1,500 minutes on the pitch.

The Red Leafs are ranked sixth in the west region of the 2023 NCAA Div. II women's soccer championships.

SFU will face Cal State LA (#3, west region) at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16, on familiar territory as Seattle Pacific's Interbay Stadium is hosting first round matches.

On the men's side, SFU is ranked seventh in Super Region 4 of the tournament and will play against #10 Point Loma in Los Angeles at 6 p.m. Pacific on Thursday.

The Red Leafs are looking to make the Final Four for the first time in 10 years, having reached the semifinals three times since 2010.