And then there were two

A look into the playoff picture for the fall sports.

Senior+forward+Carlos+Ballesteros+gets+pulled+back+by+a+Westmont+rival+while+dribbling+down+the+field+during+the+game+on+October+12.+%7C+Katie+Evensen%2FTHE+CHIMES

OLIVIA BLINN

Senior forward Carlos Ballesteros gets pulled back by a Westmont rival while dribbling down the field during the game on October 12. | Katie Evensen/THE CHIMES

Laurie Bullock and Tyler Gunhus

Senior midfielder Victoria Dalla Zanna battles for the ball during the blowout game against Antelope Valley College on Sept. 14. Women's soccer ended their season with a record of 9-9-1 after losing to Vanguard on Nov. 5. | Natalie Lockard/THE CHIMES

 

Following women’s soccer’s 1-0 loss to No. 11 Vanguard University in the first round of the Golden State Athletic Conference tournament, only men’s soccer and volleyball remain in the post-season running for Biola heading into the second week of November.

Despite a hard-fought battle on both defensive fronts, Biola women’s soccer came out on the losing end of the quarterfinals in Costa Mesa. Freshman midfielder Ashley McCutcheon scored the game-winning goal for the Lions in the 50th minute. The Eagles outshot Vanguard 15-11 but were unable to take advantage of opportunities going forward.

The loss puts a stopper on a somewhat disappointing season for the Eagles, finishing 9-9-1. Biola only managed three conference wins, all of which came against teams who did not make it to the GSAC tournament, Arizona Christian University and Hope International University.

This marks the second year in a row the Eagles have been bounced from the playoffs by Vanguard. Last season, the Eagles were defeated in the GSAC championships by the Lions and kept from the first NAIA appearance.

For the players and coaches, it’s a bit disappointing to see the women bow out of playoffs so early.

Sophomores Lauren Hoenecke and Joclyn Kirton put up a powerful block against Texas-Brownsville. Unfortunately for women's volleyball, that strength was not enough to overpower the #2 team in the GSAC Conference on October 22. Biola volleyball looks to continue their season, aiming at a spot at nationals. | Tomber Su/THE CHIMES

TWO TEAMS LEFT

Thankfully, for Biola athletic fans, the fall 2013 season is not lost yet. Two teams still remain in contention for a chance at nationals, as both volleyball and men’s soccer show a good deal of potential.

Volleyball is ranked third in the nation and has only lost twice this season.

With only three more conference games left in the season, the Eagles look forward to getting another shot at Concordia University Irvine.

Biola lost to the Irvine Eagles in October, erasing their chances at a perfect season. Dropping the match in four sets, the Eagles look forward to having another chance to play Concordia for the chance to be co-conference champions.

“I feel like our team is ready to go out and show everyone what we can do,” junior middle blocker Weststeyn said. “Both of the losses that we’ve had this year are losses that we know we could have won. To a certain extent it’s disappointing, but to another extent it’s encouraging because we know that it’s possible for us to beat them.”

After the Eagles play Concordia they will travel to Sioux City, Iowa for the national championship tournament. Last year the Eagles made it all the way to the semi-finals before falling to Concordia. This year their focus is the title.

“Our goal this whole year has been to win it all,” junior libero Jaci Schork said. “It will be whoever is playing their best and whoever is making the least errors that will win the final game.”

The Eagles will prepare for nationals by continuing to strengthen their mental toughness during these last few conference games.

“I think our mental game has really improved,” Weststeyn said. “People look at us and they see a talented team physically on the court, but so much of that comes from being mentally strong. So much of what makes us mentally strong is our senior leadership.”

Senior forward Carlos Ballesteros gets pulled back by a Westmont rival while dribbling down the field during the game on October 12. Men's soccer finished second in GSAC standings, earning a first round bye in the GSAC tournament. | Katie Evensen/THE CHIMES

 

TODD ELKINS NOT DONE YET

While his women’s team may be done for the year, Todd Elkins still has his men’s team to lead. The Eagles finished their regular season last weekend with a 2-0 win in Santa Clarita against The Master’s College.

They finished second in the GSAC standings — their highest finish since 2002 — and earned a first round bye in the GSAC tournament.

“I think all of the guys have been confident in training, and we’ve been playing and practicing well,” sophomore midfielder John Hanscom said. “I think we’re moving in the right direction and we’re really peaking at the right time, right before post-season.”

The Eagles are definitely peaking and hitting their stride at the right time. After dropping back-to-back games against Concordia and Arizona Christian, the Eagles finished out the season winning six of their last seven and outscoring their opponents 21-3.

Sophomore goalkeeper JT Addington posted his fifth straight shutout in the win against Master’s and hasn’t been scored on in over 450 minutes. Addington is tied for sixth in the nation with a goals against average of 0.69.

With senior forward Daniel Chew leading the way on offense with 15 goals, the Eagles look to be an unstoppable force on both sides of the ball going into playoffs.

Biola will most likely open up post-season play against the winner of Vanguard and Westmont. If The Master’s sneaks in an upset against San Diego Christian, the Eagles will face them, but it is rather unlikely. The semifinal game is scheduled for Saturday at Al Barbour field with a time to be determined.

Women’s soccer might be out, but Biola isn’t yet. With promising seasons from both men’s soccer and volleyball, the quest for nationals has just begun.

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