SEATTLE – (Dec. 5) Seattle University women’s soccer put together another record-breaking season in 2017, continuing its run as one of the top mid-major programs in the nation. The Redhawks return a strong lineup for the 2018 campaign and will look to take back the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Championship.
In 2017, Coach Julie Woodward’s squad advanced to its fifth straight WAC Championship game, setting a conference record. It also tallied an eighth straight winning season. Senior Stephanie Spiekerman was chosen All-WAC First Team for the second time in her career. She finished her career with the 2016 WAC Defensive Player of the Year Award, two first team nods, and two second team honors. SU also featured 16 players with at least one assist this season, tied for third-most in the nation.
After setbacks against two challenging foes to start the schedule, the Redhawks headed to Hawai’i. SU beat Pacific and Hawai’i, as Mackenzie Curry recorded a pair of shutouts. Jessie Ray was picked as tournament MVP after scoring a goal in both games on the island.
On Sept. 4, Seattle U played at Idaho in one of the wildest games in program history. Idaho grabbed a 2-0 lead before Leahi Manthei came off the bench to score her first collegiate goal. A Holly Rothering penalty kick goal tied it late in the half and then Manthei dominated the second frame. The freshman scored three times to lift the Redhawks to a 5-3 road win. Manthei’s four goals set a Division I-program record and helped SU overcome a two-goal deficit for the first time in D1 history.
Manthei was one of 11 players to score four goals in a Division I game this season. The Gig Harbor, Wash., native became just the third Redhawk to tally a hat trick in the Division I era. Stephanie Verdoia recorded two in her career and Natasha Howe pulled off the feat at Utah Valley last season. Her eight-point showing also ties an SU Division I record, as Verdoia scored eight points against Chicago State on Oct. 26, 2014.
Two weeks later, Ray led Seattle U to a decisive 4-0 win at Portland State. The sophomore claimed two goals and an assist to lead the Redhawks. On Sept. 22, Ray scored as SU tied Portland, 1-1, at Championship Field.
SU opened WAC play with a 6-1 win at Chicago State, as Madeline Racine collected a goal and three assists as the Redhawks tied their own WAC record with their 15th straight WAC regular season victory. Seattle U also improved its unbeaten streak to a conference-record 24 matches.
After seeing those streaks snapped by Kansas City, the Redhawks eventually set off on a path back to the WAC Championship game. Spiekerman scored in a 1-0 win over CSU Bakersfield that marked the return of Ashley Routh in net. That match sparked a streak of over 500 minutes of shutout soccer for the Redhawks.
After playing a scoreless draw at Grand Canyon, SU came home and beat Utah Valley, 2-0, on senior night at Championship Field. Seattle U entered the WAC Championship as the fourth seed, squaring off with New Mexico State to start the tournament. SU won, 3-0, to advance to the semifinals and a rematch with regular-season champion Kansas City. The Redhawks pulled out a 1-0 win, as Ray scored in the first half and Routh made a diving save in the closing seconds to secure another shutout.
Two days later, the Redhawks faced Utah Valley for the title. Howe scored her seventh career goal in the WAC Championship to give SU the lead. UVU answered with a goal late in regulation and eventually advanced in penalty kicks. Seattle U extended its scoreless streak to 569:01 in the contest, the longest such string for SU since the 2013 season. Howe, Spiekerman, and Racine were all named to the all-tournament team.
Ray paced the team with eight goals on her way to All-WAC Second Team recognition. Hannah Carrothers was also a second team choice after a stellar season defensively.
Woodward returns for her 22nd season at SU in 2018. Howe and Spiekerman headline a terrific senior class that will be missed, but Ray, Carrothers, and Manthei will lead the next group of Redhawks.