Women’s Soccer Turns It Around: Seattle U Surging Late in the Season


Seattle University’s women’s soccer team has outscored their last five opponents by a margin of 19-3 en route to six consecutive conference wins starting in late September, placing the Redhawks atop the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) as the playoffs approach.

After starting their 2022 campaign at 2(Wins)-4(Draws)-1(Loss), Seattle U women’s soccer looked to be on their way to an unprecedented second-straight losing season. Their 7-8-4 record in 2021 was just the second losing season in total under the 25-year oversight of head coach Julie Woodward.

Seven of the eight losses came by a single goal and the Redhawks were competitive in every game they played. For most teams, a year like 2021 would be passable, if not positive.

Not for Seattle U.

“I think from an outside perspective, if they haven’t been around the program, sometimes individuals would look at just about a .500 [win percentage] record and go, ‘Oh wow, that program did ok,’” Woodward said. “But the expectations of the Seattle U Women’s Soccer program are extremely high because it’s been really successful.”

Instead of allowing the frustration from the previous season to boil over, the players used it as motivation to get back to work after the rough start. According to Woodward, that moment of motivation came during the team’s Sept. 4 loss to the University of Washington.

“In our sport you want to be playing your best soccer right now,” Woodward added, with the WAC tournament coming in less than a week. “That loss drove us more than anything.”

“As a group, we knew we were better than what we showed on the field,” Junior midfielder Kaylee Coatney said. “We just started holding each other accountable more.”

That internal improvement began to show, and worked in harmony with the additions the Redhawks made as a roster. The first major addition being Coatney, who transferred from the University of Utah before the season. After going the first 11 games of the year with two goals, playing more of a defensive role, the Bonney Lake native caught fire to score five goals in the current six-game win streak for Seattle.

Coatney, coming off a missed 2021 season due to an ACL tear, pondered dropping the sport at times, but she stuck with the game. She transferred to Seattle U in January to be closer to home as she worked back to playing shape.

“I was definitely nervous, I didn’t know if I would be the same player,” Coatney said, reminiscing on the rehab process. “[This season] has been really reassuring in myself and has given me a lot of confidence going forward… it made me fall back in love with the game.”

Another massive addition to Seattle U’s offense has been Freshman phenom U’i Kaaihue, who is leading the Redhawks in points and the WAC in goals by a freshman, tied with Southern Utah’s Sammie Sofonia. Even though Kaaihue had yet to play more than 31 minutes after the initial four games of the season, Woodward credited her passion for the game as the reason for her role increasing in the manner it has.

While all these factors began to coalesce and the team started to win, the Redhawks paused to shed light on an important topic: mental health.

Following Stanford goalkeeper Katie Meyer’s suicide in February, the collegiate sports world shifted its collective attention to the mental well-being of student-athletes. Seattle U took their opportunity to do so as well on Oct. 13, when they hosted their ‘Katie’s Save’ Night against Stephen F. Austin at Championship Field, coordinated by Senior defender Emily Hartson.

“We try to get away from the stigma of not talking about [mental health],“ Woodward said. “That game, as a program, we talked about how playing in college athletics is definitely an incredible privilege, but recognizing how it can be extremely hard… that weekend we took it as more of a privilege in playing that game and using that platform to raise awareness for mental health struggles.”

“I think that’s been part of our successes, kind of being more real about it and being more real with each other,” team co-captain and Senior defender Michele Adam relayed. “Everyone struggles with their own thing… We try our best to be there for each other.”

The 5-3 win over Stephen F. Austin also saw five individual Redhawks score goals, a statistic Woodward believes is indicative of this program’s team-oriented approach.

On a night where empathy and community were at the forefront, that said it all.

The Redhawks will look to continue the win streak Oct. 27 against Utah Tech at Championship Field and will finish off their regular season strong Saturday, Oct. 30 against Southern Utah.