The Western Washington University women’s soccer team narrowly defeated Northwest Nazarene University 2-1 in a close game on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023 at Harrington Field.
Saturday night’s event – which was a rematch of the 2022 Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship game where Western edged out a 1-0 victory over NNU – was Western’s fifth home game, and resulted in the fifth win of the season.
Within the first four minutes of the game, NNU scored a goal on a corner attempt that was mistakenly headed in by Western. With 22 minutes left in the first half, Vikings defender Jayden Nguyen scored to tie the game at 1-1, assisted by fellow defender Halle Noel.
“It was crazy,” said Nguyen. “I feel like it didn’t even register for a while. Honestly, still now it’s crazy. But it was great."
The score remained tied throughout the second half until the final seconds of the match, when a NNU player accidentally headed the ball into their own goal, giving Western a 2-1 lead with 24 seconds left.
With this win, Western’s women’s soccer team is now 5-3-3 overall and 4-0-1 at home.
Saturday night's game also served as the celebration of the 2022 DII National Championship win Western secured last March by defeating West Chester University 2-1 on a late goal by forward Claire Potter. The championship victory was the second in six years, picking up the previous title in 2016.
“We’ve had 45 years of amazing student-athletes that play soccer at Western," said Head Coach Travis Connell. "We’ve had such a rich tradition with the women’s soccer program and we’re really humbled to be a part of it.”
Connell wasn’t the only member of the team who was feeling elated after Saturday’s win. Noel said it felt great to grab a win at home in front of hundreds of Western supporters.
“It’s just amazing,” Noel said. “It feels so good to win with this group. We were playing together and we probably connected one of the best times that we’ve had this year so far."
For Western, this win came at a crucial point. With a tie game for the majority of the match, Connell said the team's approach didn’t change much going into half, but the minor adjustments that Connell, his staff and the players made helped push Western over the edge in the final minute.
“We showed what hard work and grit [is],” said Noel while her teammates celebrated behind her. “We just kept going. I’m so proud of this group. We kept fighting, we didn’t give up until we got where we wanted.”
For the Vikings’ next match, they will travel to Montana to play against MSU Billings on Thursday, Oct. 12. After that, the Vikings will play against Simon Fraser in British Columbia before traveling to Nampa, Idaho to rematch against Northwest Nazarene on October 19.
Mathew Callaghan (he/him) is a senior sports reporter for the Front this quarter. He plans to major in journalism and minor in law, diversity and justice through Fairhaven. In his free time, Mathew likes to write, hike, read and play basketball.
You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.