Vikings Headed To Final Four After Scoring Early And Often
Estera Levinte was one of the strongest players of the match for Western Washinton, recording assists on the first two Vikings goals.
Estera Levinte was one of the strongest players of the match for Western Washinton, recording assists on the first two Vikings goals.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Bellingham, Wash. – Western Washington rode a dominant first half to a 3-1 win over Colorado Mines at home in Bellingham and is heading to Seattle for the Final Four of the NCAA Division II Women’s Soccer Championships.

The Vikings came out of the gates incredibly strong, only having to wait half as long to score as they did on Thursday when freshman midfielder Morgan Manalili netted the first goal of the match in just the second minute. The GNAC Freshman of the Year and conference championships MVP just pushed in a bouncing ball that junior forward Estera Levinte forced onto the goal line to give WWU a lead that they wouldn’t surrender.

Western Washington showed no sign of easing up with a one-goal advantage and continued to pressure in the early stages of the half. Levinte and senior midfielder Tera Ziemer looked incredibly comfortable and dangerous at the top of the Oredigger’s box. Their efforts paid off only 10 minutes after the opening tally when junior defender Jayden Nguyen made it a 2-0 lead for the Vikings off a low cross from Levinte on the left wing.

The Vikings’ offense kept pushing into the middle of the half and the constant pressure forced the issue again when a chance from Sophie Bearden Croft led to a corner kick. Freshman forward Emily Rice floated the set piece in beautifully from the corner and the ball found Ziemer on the goal line to tuck the third goal of the match home in the 35th minute. Going into halftime, Western Washington led Colorado Mines 3-0 and was outshooting the Orediggers 11-5 with six shots on net.

Colorado Mines came out pushing back to start the second half. The Vikings were on their heels to start the frame as senior goalkeeper Claire Henninger came up with several big saves in net to keep the 3-0 lead. The Orediggers did get on the board 65th minute when Henninger came out aggressively to defend a ball while Colorado Mines forwards swarmed the box and got caught out of position on a rebound.

From that point, however, Western Washington remained steady in its own end and capped off the last home match of the season with a 3-1 final score. Along with the advantage on the scoreboard, the Vikings outshot their opponents 17-13 while Henninger finished the match with four saves in net. Defenders Asia Hardin and Katie Watt played all 90 minutes of the match along with Ziemer.

The win takes the Vikings to the Final Four of the NCAA Championships. The semifinals will be held in Seattle on December 1 as part of the Division II Championships Festival.