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College soccer: Former HPA standout Ewing named GNAC POY

November 7, 2017 - 12:05am

Led by Big Island standout Gabrielle Ewing, the Concordia women’s soccer team may have lost in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship game, but the season isn’t over yet as the team earned an at-large bid into the Division II National Championship Tournament.

Gathering in the cafeteria with her teammates, other athletes and students of Concordia around midday on Monday to watch the Division II tournament selection on a big screen TV, Ewing and the rest of the women’s soccer team waited patiently to see if their season would continue after falling in double overtime in their conference championship. When Concordia was announced, the scene turned chaotic.

“I don’t think I have ever screamed louder,” Ewing said. “It was really exciting and now we just want to take it as far as we can go.”

The season has been full of excitement for Ewing, who is having a stellar junior season, which included eight goals, seven assists and 23 points during the regular season. She connected on game winning goals five times, earning the former Hawaii Preparatory Academy standout the nod for GNAC Player of the Year.

“When I found out at first I was in shock,” Ewing said. “I cried a little bit and was really excited. I could not believe it.”

“It almost did not hit me right away,” she added. “I worked really hard in the offseason and during the season, and it means a lot to me.”

Ewing was a unanimous selection as voted on by the GNAC coaches. She is a two-time ALL-GNAC honoree after making the second team in her sophomore campaign. She is the first ever Cavalier to be awarded the league’s top honor.

“I think that has a lot to do with the school not being in Division II for very long,” Ewing said. “They could have picked a lot of players from our team this year.”

Ranked 17th in the nation, Concordia entered the GNAC championship game last week against the 12th ranked Western Washington Vikings on a 12-game winning streak. They had defeated Western Washington the previous week in the regular season finale.

The championship match was even from the start, with both teams struggling to find the net. It would take not one, but two overtimes for the match to be decided, with Western Washington’s Gabriela Pelogi scoring the golden goal in the 104th minute after following up a missed shot by teammate Emily Webster.

”Even though it wasn’t the result we wanted, we worked really hard to get there and I think we showed we belonged in the championship game,” Ewing said. “It was exciting to get to play at home and in front of the home crowd.”

The Vikings had a chance to gain an early lead just minutes into the match, but Concordia goalkeeper Anne Miller managed one of her five saves of the day.

The Cavaliers put up a shot in the 59th minute that sailed a little right. A few minutes later, Ewing had two chances to score, but her first shot was blocked by the Western Washington keeper and her second shot sailed wide left.

After a blank first overtime period, Pelogi managed to find the back of the net four minutes into the second OT for her 15th goal of the season.

The loss was Concordia’s first against a GNAC opponent all season. The team went 15-3-1 this season overall.

“Going into the season, I don’t think we expected to be as successful as we were,” Ewing said. “We were just taking it one game at a time and playing every game like it was the most important game of the year.”

Concordia will now prepare for the national tournament as one of the 48 teams selected to compete. The Cavaliers are the No. 5 seed in the West Region and they will face No. 4 Chico State in the opening round of the tournament on Friday. The winner of the match will face top seeded UC San Diego in the second round on Sunday.

The Cavaliers faced Chico State in the preseason, losing 2-0.

“It is good to know that our season is not over yet,” Ewing said. “We have another chance and everyone is excited to play Chico State.”

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