Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Logo for The Western Front

WWU women’s soccer defeat Trinity Western in home opener

The Vikings improve to 1-1 after exhibition victory against Spartans

Western junior midfielder/forward Morgan Manalili races downfield against the Trinity Western Spartans on Tuesday, April 9, 2024, at Harrington Field in Bellingham, Wash. Manalili scored the game-winning goal for the Vikings. // Photo by Emma Morgan, courtesy of WWU Athletics. 

The Western Washington University women’s soccer team defeated the Trinity Western Spartans 2-1 in their spring exhibition season home opener to improve to 1-1 on Tuesday, April 9, at Harrington Field.

Defender Halle Noel and midfielder/forward Morgan Manalili led the Vikings in scoring. Striking early, Noel scored the first goal for the Vikings, putting them ahead 1-0 just five minutes into the contest.

“I looked up and saw the goalie and it just worked out,” Noel said. “I placed it where I saw the goalie wasn’t.”

The Spartans answered in the 33rd minute when defender Sarah Bazille scored the equalizer heading into halftime.

In the second half, the Vikings quickly regained the lead with Manalili scoring what would be the game-winning goal for the Vikings. 

“I was trying to get in a good position to score, so I popped the ball over the defender and it lined up pretty well for me to strike through the ball,” Manalili said. 

The Vikings were able to stave off several attempts by the Spartans throughout the rest of the half. Western’s strong defense helped them come away victorious and get their first win of the spring exhibition season. 

“We knew we were gonna take some pressure in the second half, so we talked a lot about how we were going to defend,” Western’s head coach Travis Connell said. “The key was being able to defend and have the ball enough so they couldn’t score.” 

Even though these games don’t count in the wins and losses column, exhibition games are important for the team moving forward. 

“The season starts now, whether these games count or not, they count towards our play in the fall, winter and next spring – it prepares us for those games,” Noel said. “We’ve been building our chemistry, we’ve been working on pressing as a team, and growing our relationships on the field so we can play and be connected.” 

Women's spring soccer

The Vikings embrace in their pregame huddle before their match against the Trinity Western Spartans on Tuesday, April 9, 2024, at Harrington Field in Bellingham, Wash. The Vikings defeated the Spartans 2-1 in their spring exhibition home opener. // Photo by Emma Morgan, courtesy of WWU Athletics.

The Vikings last played on March 9 against Simon Fraser University. With a month between games, conditioning was a focus for the players.

“Something really important in the spring is to get back to game fitness. It’s really about getting back into the mentality and locking in for games,” Manalili said. “I want to score goals, I want to assist for people [and] just execute on winning games.”

The exhibition season is also a time for coaches to experiment with different lineups, players and strategies. 

“We need to have the ball a little more. We played on the counter a lot in the fall, we want to be in possession more,” Connell said. “We’re also trying some different things systematically, we’re doing a lot of evaluation – we’re so fortunate to play tough teams that push us, [so] we can practice winning games.”

The Vikings’ next match is on April 14 against the University of Portland at Merlo Field in Portland, Oregon.

Aiden Luhr

Aiden Luhr is a junior at Western and a sports reporter for The Front. He is a journalism news/editorial major and enjoys anything sports related. You can reach him at

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Western Front