Highline Women's Soccer Captures Second NWAC Championship
By Eric Trent
TUKWILA – After playing through a scoreless tie the entire match, Highline coach Tom Moore told his players one thing in the overtime huddle.
‘Give us one chance and the game's over,’” Moore said.
“And it worked,” he said.
Only 1:18 into overtime, Highline defender Bella Keane tossed the ball in from the sideline, to teammate Fiona Dawson, who bounced it off her chest at the penalty area and into a crowd of two Peninsula players and sophomore forward Jewel Boland.
The ball trickled out behind the three and rolled toward the goal box.
Boland turned around, found herself with a clear shot on goal and blasted the ball just below the crossbar into the back of the net to help Highline capture its second NWAC women’s soccer championship.
Boland, who was named tournament MVP, was bum-rushed by her teammates.
“I feel like we played amazing,” Boland. “I feel like every one of us played our best games. Everything was left on the field. I’m just so proud of everybody.”
This was a rematch of last year’s championship where Peninsula won, 1-0, in double overtime.
After finishing as runner-ups the past two years, this title was especially rewarding, Moore said.
“We were so focused,” said Moore. “We went through so much adversity this year, I couldn’t even explain it to you. This game meant so much more than just ‘the game.’ There wasn’t much that was going to stop us.”
Peninsula (20-1-0) and Highline (18-0-2) entered as the top-two scoring offenses in the NWAC, and the top-two defenses.
The Thunderbirds win snapped the Pirates’ nation-leading 38-game win streak.
Highline came in boasting a vicious defense, allowing only 5 goals the entire season, including 15 shutouts, both tops in the NWAC.
Peninsula, the No. 1 seed in the North Region, and ranked No. 4 nationally, came in as the top scoring offense of all-time in NWAC history with 142 goals this season, shattering the previous record of 129 set by Walla Walla in 2007, in 24 matches.
Highline, the No. 1 seed in the West Region, and ranked No. 8 nationally, shutout Spokane, 3-0, in the quarterfinals, then downed Clark, 3-2, on penalty kicks (4-3.)
Boland said they persevered, despite the adversity they faced this season.
“We’ve been playing for so much,” Boland said. “We’ve gone through ups and downs and individual battles. I think we just had heart.”
Moore said he’s glad they played Peninsula. They’re his favorite matchup.
“I love playing [Peninsula] because that’s the matchup,” Moore said. ‘If we could do it every year, I would do it. All the games leading up to it are great, but this is the game.”
Jewel Boland and named MVP while Tori Morton was tabbed Most Inspirational Player.MVP Jewel Boland, Head Coach Tom Moore and Most Inspirational Player Tori Morton