Champions at Last

1978 – Around the World and Close to Home

The first child conceived outside human body is born in Britain, John Paul II becomes first non-Italian Pope in 455 years after Paul VI and John Paul I die less than eight weeks apart, and behind Mario Kempes host Argentina turns back Holland in extra time to win the World Cup. After a freighter collides with the West Seattle Bridge, one span is rendered permanently impassable, Seattle hires its first female firefighter, and the last Interstate-90 stoplight in Washington is eliminated by a North Bend bypass.

Champions at Last

It was one thing to have your professional club play for a championship, but it’s an entirely different matter when a team overwhelmingly comprised of players from your cities, towns and neighborhoods reach for such prizes. That’s precisely what happens in the closing weeks of 1978, when Seattle Pacific University at last claims an NCAA championship.

For four years Seattle Pacific had been contending for the Division II crown, reaching the final three times, only to be denied. In 1970, Cliff McCrath had inherited a fledgling program and soon infused his players with the fundamental belief that, playing as a team, they could accomplish great things. As the Falcons began achieving success – beginning with upset wins, then postseason berths and conference titles – the dream of a national championship was not far-fetched. To them, at least.

To outsiders, however, SPU appears to be unfashionable wannabes competitive within the region, perhaps, but not championship material. Not when the other collegiate powerhouses – in Division I and II – are relying heavily on more experienced, mostly foreign talent, while Seattle Pacific was cast of mainly shaggy-haired local kids. This season, of the 24 roster players, 20 hail from Washington high schools. All but two are underclassmen.

The championship game is played in broiling midday Miami heat, against Alabama A&M, the defending champion and featuring primarily Nigerian and Jamaican players. During the playoffs, the Bulldogs had bulldozed all comers, outscoring opponents 15-0 (they would reclaim the crown in 1979 and be 1981 Division I runners-up). SPU is coming off an exhausting 1-0 overtime win over Southern Connecticut the day before.

A year earlier, the Falcons had held their own versus AA&M, going down 2-1 in the final. McCrath goes shopping after the semifinal, buying mesh jerseys to combat the steamy conditions. He also instructs his troops to play a measured, zonal defense, pulling all 11 players behind the ball, forcing the Bulldogs to constantly move side to side. It’s ugly but effective. It plainly frustrates Alabama. “It was David and Goliath. Nobody was kidding anybody about which team had the players,” said McCrath. “But we kept them off their rhythm.”

Sergio Soriano faces 22 shots, making eight saves, and it remains scoreless throughout regulation and throughout two more 15-minute overtime periods. Finally, in the 128th minute, a throw-in from Eric Benz finds the head of Jim McKay, who flicks the ball far post when freshman Bruce Raney snaps his header neatly into the net. Game over. Washington’s first national championship in soccer, at any level, goes to SPU.

Four days later, McCrath writes and mails a letter to Washington State Youth Soccer Associationleaders, dedicating the championship to all those who helped develop these players into world-beaters. He said: “Effectively, this national championship belonged to them, it was dedicated to them because these were their players.”

Belief is a beautiful thing, belief. The fruit of ability, hope and knowledge, belief is that crucial final station before realization. The argument can be made that Seattle Pacific’s feat creates a belief in more and more teams from Washington, because in the succeeding 15 years after Seattle Pacific’s ’78 NCAA title, Puget Sound area youth and senior teams win 18 national championships.

Year in Review
Season Record
15-15, 3rd West, 1st rnd
Jimmy Gabriel (2nd year)
Best XI
Mike England
Top Scorer
Micky Cave (13 goals)
State Knockout Cup
Interlake Porsche Audi
Men's Collegiate Champions
Seattle Pacific, NCAA Division II
Men's Collegiate Postseason
Seattle Pacfic D2 champion
Women's Conference Champions
Washington State (c)
NWAC Men's Champion
Skagit Valley
Largest Attendance
36,610, Sounders v New York

1978: Champions at Last

Seattle Pacific University shockingly wins the NCAA Division II men's championship, seemingly unlocking the door for future champions.

Youth Gets OK for Helmet
December 20, 1978

South Snohomish County Youth Soccer leaders allow Marc Forsythe, 15, of the Mountlake Terrace Grizzlies to wear a soft foam rubber helmet. Forsythe, who suffered a fractured skull as a toddler, had first worn a hard-shell bicycle helmet. Rules prohibit players to wear “casts, splints and hard guards, jewelry, watches or any hard object. Goalkeeper Alan Mayer wears a soft helmet for San Diego in the NASL.

SPU Wins Twice-Delayed Regional Final
November 22, 1978

A twice-delayed NCAA West Regional final is finally played at noon on a Tuesday in a neutral stadium. Still, Seattle Pacific retains its Best in the West mantle for the third year running. The Falcons get goals from Jim McKay and Bruce Raney to beat San Francisco State, 2-1, at Husky Stadium. Snow had left Memorial Stadium unplayable the previous three days.

German Youth Return Visit
July 13, 1978

West Germany’s TSV Reichenbach U17 boys visit the Edmonds UFOs at Woodway High School. It’s a return visit after the UFOs visited West Germany in 1977. Other TSV games are set for Everett, Lynnwood, Wenatchee and Mercer Island.

Ex-UW Star Scores for Detroit
July 12, 1978

Ex-Husky star Danny Vaughn scores twice for Detroit in 10-0 rout of San Jose at the Pontiac Silverdome. It’s the first professional goals for Vaughn, a rookie defender from Tacoma. Express teammate Trevor Francis ties an NASL record with five goals.

Stock, Peterson Sign with Sounders
June 16, 1978

A day after graduating from Stadium High School, Jeff Stock, 17, signs an Olympic ($50 per week) contract with the Sounders. Six days later, fellow Tacoman Mark Peterson, 18, signs out of Wilson High. Both are youth national team players and members of the Norpoint Royals.

Dirty Dozen's Breed Scores 9
May 13, 1978

Cindy Breed can’t stop scoring, totaling nine goals in U19 Highline Dirty Dozen’s 19-0 West semifinal rout of Nevada. Dirty Dozen are coming off their fourth state championship in six years. However, they fall to the NorCal champion in the regional final, 4-2.

NASL Drafts 5 Locals
January 23, 1978

Tacoma native Danny Vaughn, the Washington Huskies scoring king with 52 goals, is the 13th selection of NASL first round by expansion Detroit Express. Vaughn will begin training with Detroit in England the following week. Leif Redal (Tacoma/UCLA) goes to LA Aztecs with 20th pick. Jose Reyes (Bakersfield/SPU) of SPU to Sounders in second round, Cliff Brown (Tacoma/UW) chosen by Seattle in third round, SPU’s Todd Shilperoort (Seattle) in 4th.

Same Association, New Name
May 30, 1978

Founded in 1966, Washington State Junior Soccer Association modifies its name to the Washington State Youth Soccer Association to conform with its national governing body, the United States Youth Soccer Association.

Sounders Land Hudson
October 16, 1978

Alan Hudson becomes Seattle’s biggest signing to date, with the former England international midfielder transferred from Arsenal for $200,000. General manager Jack Daley says the price is more than all the previous transfer sums combined. Hudson, 27, signs a three-year contract.

Marymoor Park Field Honor Pingrey
July 15, 1978

Two playing fields at Redmond's Marymoor Park are dedicated to Fred Pingrey in honor of the man who ‘brought soccer to the Eastside.’ Pingrey, on medical leave from King County Police, has been involved with teams for 20 years. He is VP of youth development for Washington State Youth Soccer Association. He played a key role in establishing the Lake Washington Youth Soccer Association. “He was a pathfinder, a missionary who went to untouched areas,” says Tom Webb.

Shorewood Blanks Sammamish
May 26, 1978

Shorewood (AA) scores two quick goals in first half and holds off Sammamish (AAA) to win the state all-division championship, 2-0, before 1,146 at Memorial Stadium. Dan Nugent makes nine saves to earn the shutout. Greg Burk scores from 35 yards just 70 seconds into the game, his third tournament goal. Tom Jordan adds the second in 30th minute.

Interlake Porsch Audi Rules
April 23, 1978

Interlake Porsche Audi gets an early score from Bruce Walyor to beat Serac, 1-0, for the Washington State Soccer League Challenge Cup at Memorial Stadium.

Seattle U Stops SPU Title Chase
November 16, 1978

Dave Augustavo scores twice in the second half, and John Vukelich tallies what proves to be the winner in Seattle University’s season-ending 3-2 upset of Seattle Pacific, denying the Falcons the NCSC championship and instead handing the trophy to Simon Fraser by one point (16-15). At 9-5-1 and third in the conference, it is the Chieftains’ best season in five years.

Costly Opening Win
April 1, 1978

A crowd of 29,105 celebrates the Soccer Bowl ’77 runners-up and while the victory over Colorado, 3-0, is the club’s best season-opening performance, it’s marred by the loss of stalwart center back David Gillett. A four-year starter in his prime, Gillett had scored the game’s first goal sustains compound fracture of his left leg in collision with Matt Bahr and is out for the season.

England World Cup Hero Arrives
July 12, 1978

Five days after signing, former England World Cup captain Bobby Moore debuts for Sounders in a 3-0 win over Los Angeles. Moore, 37 and a veteran of over 500 first division games in England and 108 for his national team, had been playing for Edmonton Black Gold when Seattle coach Jimmy Gabriel reached out. The defensive midfielder and sweeper is a former West Ham teammate of assistant coaches Bobby Howe and Harry Redknapp. Moore had played against the Sounders while with San Antonio in 1976. Micky Cave gets two goals, and the defense, riddled with injuries to David Gillett and Adrian Webster, posts its record 10th shutout (Tony Chursky's career record 25th) and third straight at home. The Sounders win for the third time in four games to finally climb to .500 (12-12) and into the conference’s eighth and final playoff spot.

NCAA Region Proves Fluid
November 19, 1978

Washington, which is making its second postseason appearance in three years, is seeded No. 4 in the West. Originally it was paired with USF (24-1-0) ranked No. 2 nationally, however, both San Jose State and UC Santa Barbara are deemed ineligible, so UW meets Santa Clara at Buck Shaw Stadium, falling 2-0, in a cold rain.

Sportsmanlike Soviet Summit
July 4, 1978

Locals and visiting Soviets play “sportsmanlike” soccer at Lakeside School as organized by peace activist Dick Carbray. Tour arranged by youth travel agency Sputnik in USSR and Council of American-Soviet Friendship in U.S. It ends in 6-6 tie.

SPU Shocks Champs, Win Title
December 2, 1978

After falling one win short in three of the past four years, Seattle Pacific finally breaks through to win the state’s first national championship. Bruce Raney scores in the second overtime period, at 126:47, as the Falcons shock defending champion Alabama A&M, 1-0, for the NCAA Division II crown in steamy Miami. It’s Raney’s 16th goal and comes off a throw from Eric Benz and fellow freshman Sergio Soriano makes eight saves and watches a Bulldogs shot carom off the post. Alabama A&M had won its previous three playoff games by a combined 13-0. SPU is ranked 8th in the final coaches poll for all divisions.

Huskies Drop 12 Goals on Lutes
September 27, 1978

Washington, behind junior Ron Dorn’s four scores, opens NCSC play by dropping a dozen goals on Pacific Lutheran, 12-0, at Husky Stadium. Mike Browne and Eric Anderson each add a brace in the Huskies’ fourth straight win since losing three in a row.

Two Protests, No Change
June 10, 1978

For the second time in a month, Seattle protests a loss. During a shootout tiebreaker at Portland, the Timbers’ Mike Flater is stopped by Tony Chursky, but then collects rebounds and converts. Referee Majan Raus (incorrectly) allows it, despite 5-second clock elapsing, and Portland prevails, 2-1. On May 17, Philadelphia used 10 foreign players when rules permit only nine. The Fury won, 1-0, in overtime. NASL Commissioner Phil Woosnam refuses to overturn the results. Consequently, Sounders GM Jack Daley resigns from all league committee assignments.

Puget Sound Stuns Washington
October 29, 1978

Puget Sound rewards coach Frank Gallo on his birthday with a stunning, 2-0 home upset of Washington. The Loggers strike early. In the third minute, Steve Norlin heads in Han Ulland's free kick, and Mike Finn adds another in the 17th minute. Mark Campbell makes nine saves for the shutout. Finn had scored a goal and two assists three days earlier in a 5-3 UPS comeback win over rival Pacific Lutheran.

England Hold Out Works
April 9, 1978

All-NASL center back Mike England, wishing to renegotiate his contract, stages a walkout before the Sounders play at Vancouver. With David Gillett out injured, the Whitecaps deal Seattle its worst loss in five seasons, 3-0. England returns to training three days later with a new contract.

McCrath Stunt Goes National
December 6, 1978

Cliff McCrath becomes the most talked-about soccer figure in the country, with stories and video chronicling his 2.7-mile crawl over Queen Anne Hill to the Space Needle. McCrath, the Seattle Pacific coach, is fulfilling a promise made to travel on his hands and knees from the campus to the city’s iconic landmark if the Falcons won an NCAA championship four days earlier. The trip takes 3 hours 10 minutes on a cold, raw morning. He then straightened-up and shaved his 7-year-old mustache, again as promised. McCrath went through a couple pairs of knee pads and gloves.

Sounders Again Reach Playoffs
August 5, 1978

Two goals from Jocky Scott pave the way for Seattle’s 5-2 win over California before 27,000. It’s a season-best third win in a row and highest goal total in a year. Since acquiring Bobby Moore, the Sounders have won five of eight to finish 15-15 and make the playoffs for the fourth straight year. However, as the No. 8 seed in the National Conference, Seattle must visit the Cosmos in the first round, where they fall, 5-2.

Tornado Lead FW Dominance
February 26, 1978

Federal Way Tornado wins 111th consecutive game, taking the state U15 boys title, 8-0 over Mountlake Terrace Hot Rods. Jim Park nets a hat trick and Mark Hildebrand scores two. Four other Federal Way clubs also lift cups. Tigers win U11 behind two goals each from Ray Hoof and Jason Russ, 4-0 over Renton Ruffians. Other victors are U9 Totem Steelers, U12 Woodmont Warriors and U13 Thunder.

Sounders Tap More Local Youth
June 22, 1978

Mark Peterson, a graduate of Tacoma’s Wilson High School, becomes the fourth local teenager signed by Jimmy Gabriel, joining Bernie James of Bellevue, Seattle’s Eddie Krueger and Tacoma’s Jeff Stock. Krueger plays in seven matches, starting three, during his second season. Peterson, Stock and James play for the reserve team.

Sounders Keeper Released from Prison
November 20, 1978

Sounders goalkeeper Mike Ivanow is released from California's Lompoc Federal Prison after serving 14 months of a three-year sentence for embezzlement from the Russian-American Credit Union in San Francisco. Ivanow, who played a key role filling-in during the 1977 NASL playoffs, has trimmed down from 240 pounds to 182 by regularly running 5-10 miles per day.

Huge Crowd for Soccer Bowl Rematch
May 21, 1978

Franz Beckenbauer Day at Giants Stadium attracts 71,219 to see the Cosmos great against the Sounders in a Soccer Bowl rematch. Giorgio Chinaglia scores two of his three goals in the final 13 minutes of the first half as New York breaks open a tied match, 5-1. Beckenbauer assists on the final goal.

Mountlake Terrace Marathon
July 18, 1978

Mountlake Terrace boys hope for Guinness Record Book recognition after a 43-hour match that lasted from 10am on a Friday to 8:30am Sunday at Evergreen Playfield. Twenty-two players play, without substitution. Guinness Record is 42 hours, 6 minutes. Final score: 214-191.

The game came down to a question of character and courage over skill and ability. That was the difference.
Cliff McCrath, explaining why his Seattle Pacific team was able to upset Alabama A&M for the NCAA Division II championship
The Astroturf doesn’t encourage physical play. They would get too exposed. The surface is more perfect you’ve got more time to do things, make one-touch passes.
New Sounder Bobby Moore on Turf
I’m trying to impress on them that it’s skill and all-control that count most, not speed and brute strength…The idea is to avoid people, not to hit them.
Mike Ryan on what he teaches in coaching his four teams
Perhaps the local soccer teams that have been using the all-purpose field to some extent that it is being chewed up, but “that game” of football has ruined more fields in the city than soccer.
Seattle Times reader argues whether soccer is responsible for wear on grass fields
I think the league is beginning to recognize that a player out of college is a bit too old unless you’re really lucky. You need players a bit younger. Kids just out of high school are the right age.
Bobby Howe, Sounders assistant coach, on the club’s draft strategy
Our coach, Jimmy Gabriel, feels Hudson is in a class with the Cosmos’ Vladislav Bogicevic and Tampa Bay’s Rodney Marsh. We feel he will be the premier midfielder in the league.
Sounders GM Jack Daley on new signing Alan Hudson
This is no rap on college soccer, but we feel our future lies with the younger kids, 17 and 18 years old. Kids out of high school are more coachable than fellows out of college, already in their 20s. So, we are going into the farm business.
GM Jack Daley says Sounders will shift emphasis from drafting college players to scouting high school talent
Reflecting back, I felt it was one season that we weren’t going to get any breaks. The loss of Gillett was greater than we figured. He played such a key role back there.
Sounders GM Jack Daley regarding a hard-luck season
Bobby will have a great influence on our players. He’s cool. He’ll say the right things on the park.
Sounders coach Jimmy Gabriel on newly-signed Bobby Moore's qualities
Money is not everything. Soccer is a lot of fun.
Seahawks placekicker Efren Herrera on choosing between playing in the NFL or NASL
The odds were 100 to 1 against this happening. You’d think a guy in his 40s would have better sense than to make a deal like that.
Cliff McCrath, expressing second thoughts about his 2.7-mile crawl to the Space Needle
Collegiate Men's Records
Central Washington (club) n/a
Gonzaga (club) n/a
Pacific Lutheran 7-11-3
Puget Sound 8-6-1
Seattle University 11-5-1
Seattle Pacific 18-5-4
Washington 13-7-2
Western Washington 3-9-0
Whitman 13-9-2
Collegiate Women's Records
Seattle Pacific n/a
Washington (club) n/a
Washington State (club) n/a
Western Washington 7-2-1
Whitman n/a
Professional All-League
Player (Pos) Team (Lg-Tm)
Mike England (D) Sounders (NASL-1st)
Washington State Youth Champions
Age BoysGirls
U9 Skyway Angels (GRJSA)Levitz Sockeyes (HAS)
U10 Totem Steelers (FWSA)Olympic Stompers (HAS)
U11 FW Evergreen Tigers (FWSA)Doofer's Dainty Dragons (GRJSA)
U12 FW Woodmont Warriors (FWSA)Herfy's Thunderbirds (SYSA)
U13 Thunder (FWSA)Title Realty Devils (AYSA)
U14 Auburn Hoyt Hornets (AYSA)Meadowlake (SSCJSA)
U15 Federal Way Tornado (FWSA)Lake Serene Upholstery Totems (SSCJSA)
U16 So. Snohomish Bullets (SSCJSA)Sounderettes (TPCJSA)
U17 West Seattle Oilers (SYSA)Nortac Carrera (TPCJSA)
U19 Lake Hills United (EYSA)Dirty Dozen (HAS)
Cosmos at Sounders

VIDEO: Cosmos at Sounders

Cliff McCrath's Crawl

VIDEO: Cliff McCrath's Crawl

On this Day in History
August 13, 2000
Playing shorthanded, the Yakima Reds are clouted, 5-2, by the Michigan Bucks in a PDL semifinal in Saginaw. The Reds are missing eight players who were recalled to their college teams. Yakima also falls, 5-2, to Rochester in the consolation game the next day. Chicago defeats Michigan, 1-0, for the title.
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The Vikings lift their fourth trophy of the season by winning the 16-team five-a side tournament at White Center. Five of the entries are form Vancouver, including Sunset Memorial, the British Columbia junior champions who fall to Vikes, 3-1 in the final. Erling Hansen, Einar Eliasson and Emmett Brennan score in the 15-minute match.
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June 23, 1999
Bellingham's Sandra Hunt receives her biggest assignment yet, refereeing the Japan-Russia group stage match of the FIFA Women's World Cup before friends and family at Portland's Civic Stadium. Hunt also referees the Australia-China match June 26 at East Rutherford, N.J., sending off an Australian in the second minute – a World Cup record.
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November 12, 2005
Goals less than three minutes apart separate No. 2 Seattle Pacific from No.13 UC San Diego in the NCAA Division II Far West Region final, 2-0, at Interbay. Meredith Teague and Sarah Martinez score early in the second half. Teague’s 35-yard cross floats beyond the Toreros keeper and in. Martinez nets her 16th goal in the 54th minute from the right edge of the box. SPU has never previously made it past the second round of the national tournament. Martinez also scored the overtime winner in a first-round victory over Chico State.
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