High Scoring Vikings Earn GNAC Team of the Week
Western Washington scored the most goals in the conference last week and only allowed two goals to get the conference season started off on the right foot.
Western Washington scored the most goals in the conference last week and only allowed two goals to get the conference season started off on the right foot.

Monday, September 19, 2022

PORTLAND, Ore. – Western Washington charged into the GNAC season on a mission and scored six goals in just two matches, propelling them to a 2-0 conference start. The Vikings were one of only two teams to start the conference schedule 2-0 (3-1-2 overall) and its offensive prowess to start the season, including a 3-2 win over No. 19 Western Oregon, earned them GNAC Team of the Week honors.

Western Washington opened the week with a 3-0 win over Simon Fraser on Thursday at home in Bellingham. The Vikings didn’t have to wait long to record their first goal of the conference season. Claire Potter netted the first goal of the match in the 24th minute with Emily Rice tallying an insurance goal in the first half as well. Morgan Manalili scored the third goal of the match, and her second goal of the season, off of a beautiful series of tic-tac-toe passes into the top of the Red Leafs’ box.

While Western Washington piled on the offense with 21 shots, Vikings goalkeeper Claire Henninger made four saves in the shutout. The Vikings defense limited Simon Fraser to nine shots, including a second half where they held the Red Leafs to just two.

 On Saturday, Western Washington hit the road and took a hard-fought win 3-2 at No. 19 Western Oregon. The Vikings went up early against the Wolves with a first-half goal from Payton Neal. It wasn’t long into the second half when Ashley Nguyen netted the second Western Washington goal on a penalty kick to put them up 2-0.

While Western Oregon battled back in the second half and cut the lead in half with a goal in the first 10 minutes, the Vikings stayed strong and Potter scored her second goal of the week in the 77th minute, which would become the game-winner. Henninger made a pair of saves in net for her second win of the week.

Potter’s knack for finding the back of the goal in big moments, with two game-winners from eight shots, earned her this week’s GNAC Offensive Player of the Week award.

It was a dominant first week of conference play for WWU as they outshot their opponents 34-17. The Vikings led the GNAC in goals, (6), points (16) and shots (34) and were second in assists (4) and goals allowed (2).

With the Vikings on a roll to open their conference schedule, head coach Travis Connell has been appreciative of the effort the team has put in to continue to improve while looking forward into the rest of the season.

“Our team has approached the early part of the season with an attitude to learn and get better every time we play,” Connell said. “We have learned lessons and added things to our game each week. This mindset gives us a chance to be the best version of ourselves by the end of the season.”

Western Washington will continue their season with a pair of matches on the road this week against Central Washington on Thursday and Northwest Nazarene on Saturday.