Vikings Defeat Nighthawks To Win Ninth GNAC Title
Western Washington claimed its ninth GNAC title with a 1-0 win over Northwest Nazarene in Nampa. | Photo by Loren Orr Photography
Western Washington claimed its ninth GNAC title with a 1-0 win over Northwest Nazarene in Nampa. | Photo by Loren Orr Photography

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Nampa, Idaho – Western Washington combined rock-solid defense with another stunning goal by GNAC Freshman of the Year Morgan Manalili to win the 2022 GNAC Women’s Soccer Championships with a 1-0 victory over Northwest Nazarene.

The first half was a tightly contested affair with much of the play focused in the midfield. Western Washington held the early advantage, keeping Northwest Nazarene pinned in its own half. Manalili and junior Estera Levinte were the primary architects for the Vikings’ attack in the first half but only narrowly outshot the Nighthawks 2-1.

On the defensive side, junior defender Makayla Roggow led the back line for NNU, breaking up a handful of WWU runs into the box including an opportunity from Manalili in the 30th minute. Junior defender Katie Watt remained a constant presence for the Vikings’ defense, largely keeping NNU outside of dangerous areas while playing all 90 minutes for Western Washington.

The second half featured a far more aggressive game from both sides with the Vikings outshooting the Nighthawks 7-6. Levinte and Manalili continued to drive play along the wings for Western Washington along with junior defender Kascia Muscutt who consistently jumped into the attack and moved the ball well through the midfield. Northwest Nazarene also threatened on several occasions with the Nighthawk’s best look coming from senior forward Sierra Sanchez when she fired a shot in the 48th minute that sailed just wide.

It was Manalili who lifted Western Washington to victory for the second time in the tournament with a goal in the 78th minute off an assist from Tera Ziemer. Manalili received a pass from Ziemer at the top of the Nighthawks’ box and took a step in to settle the ball before slotting it into the left side of the net past NNU goalkeeper Alexis Montoya. With a pair of game-winning goals and an assist in the Vikings’ semifinal win over Simon Fraser, Manalili was named the tournament MVP.

Western Washington continued to press into the closing stages of the second half and held strong against Northwest Nazarene as it pushed players up into the attack in an attempt to equalize. Vikings goalkeeper Claire Henninger made three saves in net for her eighth shutout of the season.

Western Washington will receive the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Division II Championships. The NCAA Division II Women’s Soccer Selection Show will be held Monday at 7 p.m. ET.