Wednesday, October 03, 2012
PORTLAND, Ore. - Wojtek Krakowiak has been a winner most of his life.
As a player he was honored as the Soccer America Freshman of the Year after leading St. John’s to the 1996 NCAA championship.
He then transferred to Clemson and was the 1998 Hermann Trophy recipient and was the ACC Player of the Year as led the Tigers to the NCAA quarterfinals, scoring 31 goals and also earning eight assists.
In soccer circles the Hermann Trophy is considered the equivalent of football’s Heisman Trophy.
After a brief pro career which was cut short by injuries, he has continued his winning ways as a college coach, leading Rutgers-Newark to its only post-season berth in school history before joining the Montana State Billings staff first as an assistant and then last year as an interim head coach when he led the Yellowjackets to a 11-3-4 record.
MSUB’s three losses and its .722 winning percentage last season were the best marks in school history.
This year he has led the ‘Jackets to a 9-1 record as his team has posted seven shutouts in 10 games and outscored its opponents 16-5.
Numbers certainly worthy of earning Krakowiak the GNAC’s Coach of the Month award for September.
MSUB’s quick start hasn’t necessarily surprised Krakowiak. “As we approached the season, our goal was to qualify for the NCAA tournament,” Krakowiak said.
It's been a team effort for the ‘Jackets. “All 25 players have contributed. Everyone has a role and brings something good to the team and that is why we are where we are,” Krakowiak said.
MSUB’s stats reflect the team-first concept. Only Heidi Greenback ranks in the Top 10 in the GNAC in scoring and she is 10th with nine points.
Six different players have scored two or more goals, including Jaucelyn Richter who has two goals and a team-high four assists. For her four-year career, Richter now ranks 16th in GNAC history with 74 points.
Four MSUB players have earned GNAC Player of the Week awards in September, including defender Jennifer Larsen who has a led a defense that gave up just two goals in its nine wins. She won the award twice.
Midfielder Chelsea Shuman and Greenback have also been Player of the Week winners. Greenback leads the team with four goals.
The Yellowjackets are a veteran team with eight starters and five all-stars, including Richter (1st team), Greenback (2nd team), Larsen (2nd team), defender Whitney Siler (honorable mention) and midfielder Kristen Kastelic (honorable mention), back from last year.
MSUB begins the October portion of its schedule this week at home taking on Northwest Nazarene on Thursday and Western Oregon on Saturday as they continue their bid to earn one of the four berths for the GNAC championship tournament that will be played at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash. on Nov. 1 and Nov. 3.
Another month like September and Krakowiak and his Yellowjackets will be guaranteed to be one of the teams participating.