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WWU women's soccer takes second in GNAC finals

This marks the 11th consecutive year the team has made it to thee championship game

Photos from the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships in Ellensburg, Wash on Nov. 9, 2023. The Vikings have appeared in the GNAC games for 11 consecutive years. // Photos courtesy of Jacob Thompson/CWU 

Western Washington University’s women’s soccer team placed second in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships in Ellensburg. The team has appeared in the GNAC final game for the last 11 years.

Coming into the weekend, Western was ranked No. 4 in the West Region.

The Vikings won the semifinal game on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023 against the Western Oregon University Wolves, with goals by Claire Potter and Jane Hmura.

The Vikings split the season series agianst the Wolves. The Vikings lost 1-0 on Sept. 30 but got redemption with a 1-0 victory on Oct. 26 at home.

10 minutes into the game on Thursday, Western was presented with a corner opportunity. Potter, with her back to the goal, hit the ball with her heel, sending the ball into the back of the net, assisted by Mie Cairns.

“I think it kind of caught the defenders by surprise, which worked out for me,” Potter said. “It was a great point for us to get a little more momentum.” 

Taking full advantage of the goal, Western held possession for the majority of the game while keeping a high press.

In the 22nd minute, Hmura got on the back post of a shot from Cairns and tapped the ball into the back of the net. The score put the Vikings up 2-0 halfway through the first half.

“Throughout this entire season our team has been consistently making back post runs to position ourselves for rebounds,” Hmura said. “It was such a thrilling feeling to score in a game like this.”

Western was looking strong until Wolves player Chloe Smith got the ball in front of the Vikings goal. With nine minutes left on the clock, Smith scored for the Wolves, making it 2-1 as they entered halftime.

Throughout the second half, possession flipped back and forth, but the game ended with Western on top, 2-1. 

Winning the game advanced the Vikings to the GNAC Championship game on Saturday, Nov. 11 against Simon Fraser University.

The Vikings previously defeated Simon Fraser 2-0 on Sept. 21 and 2-1 on Oct. 14.

Two minutes into the game, Simon Fraser got on the board with a goal by Isabella Muzzolinito, putting them ahead 1-0. That score would remain through the first half.

With lots of back-and-forth play in the second half, Payton Neal fed the ball over the back line of Simon Fraser in the 58th minute of the game with Myka Carr scoring the goal to tie the game at 1-1. 

With nine minutes left in the game, Simon Fraser had the ball bounce inside the box, where Raegan MacKenzie tapped it in to seal the game, leaving the Vikings with a 2-1 loss in the GNAC Championship.

“Really proud of the team, it’s a great accomplishment to advance and qualify for the conference tournament,” Head Coach Travis Connell said. “We fought back to get a goal, but that took a lot out of us and they were able to score at the end to beat us in the final.”

Western did not advance to the West Regional Competition, meaning the 2023 season has come to an end.

“As I end my career at Western, the primary thing I feel is gratitude for the blessing that it has been,” captain Claire Henninger said. “Part of my heart will always belong to this team.”

Madi Tessem

Madi Tessem is a sports reporter for The Front this quarter. She is a PR major and communications minor. In her free time she likes to read, watch sports and hangout with her cat. You can reach her at 

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