Men's soccer wins third NWAC title

By Andrew LaChapelle - Staff Reporter

The Highline men's soccer team clinched the NWAC title last Sunday after a 1-0 shutout of Whatcom who came into the game undefeated and ranked 11th in the country. 

Stellar defense and a continuous pressure on the Orcas gave Highline their first NWAC title since 2014. 

"Today is a great day in Highline soccer history, I couldn't be happier right now,"said Mohn.

The T-Birds got to the title game after a thrashing of Walla Walla 4-1 in the semifinals on Friday. Adama Kante had a hat trick to lead the Thunderbirds in scoring.

In the championship game both Whatcom and Highline had plenty of chances to score in the first half but the half ended knotted up zero. 

Just after halftime in the 53rd minute, Ryley Johnson had an open shot on goal which was blocked. The ball took a good bounce and Dane Evanger came running forward kicking the ball into the goal to give Highline the lead. The single goal proved to be the difference as Highline won the game by a final score of 1-0. Evanger brought home Most Inspirational Player of the Tournament award for his play.

Akili Kasim brought home Most Valuable Player of the Tournament as his play in the title game and throughout the playoffs was outstanding. Kasim did not allow a single goal against Whatcom's high powered offense which ranked first in scoring in the NWAC, netting three saves. 

Kasim didn't care to talk about his performance being more focused on the moment and his team's performance as a whole.

"I feel great for myself, my team, and the whole school, it was a great team win," said Kasim.

Mohn said shutting down the Orcas' potent offense was definitely a team effort, but singled out Kasim.

"He's a special player, and an incredible goal keeper. He did a great job commanding the defense," said Mohn 

Mohn also credited his team's defensive effort to assistant coach Nick Rosato, who worked with all of the goalies.

"Rosato did a great job with Cooper Hutchins, Julian Tafolla, and Kasim, and I feel personally like we had the three best goalies in the conference," said Mohn.

Highline thwarted a flurry of shots and opportunities by the Orcas late in the game. Whatcom was on the push for the majority of the final minutes.

"We did a great job holding the No.1 scoring offense to zero goals, an incredible team effort from everyone on the field and on the bench," said Mohn.

When the referees final whistle blew, the T-Birds bench ran onto the field, swarming each other in celebration. While many Whatcom players lay on the ground hands over their heads in shock and disbelief.

Tyler Black a freshman midfielder, was overcome with emotion.

"I'm ecstatic, I can't believe this is real we've been talking about this since the season started," he said.

After the game Mohn's joy and pleasure was evident with a huge grin. 

"It takes something special to win in the playoffs and boy did we have something special," said Mohn.

Highline has won three NWAC titles in men's soccer in5 2004, 2015, and 2017. Mohn has been a part of all three, one as a player and now two as a coach.

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