The Championship Year in Review
Winning its first championship since 2014, Highline defeated Whatcom 1-0 behind the tournament MVP goalkeeping of Akili Kasim and a goal by Dane Evanger at 58:39. This was the second championship for Head Coach Steve Mohn and his third overall at Highline (one as a player). The team finished the season at 14-1-3 with a league leading 11 goals allowed on defense. Ryley Johnson (15 goals) and Adama Kante(14 goals) led the T-Birds with 15 goals, with Mohamed Jeylani leading with eight assists. Julian Tafolla in goal led the league with a .50 goals against average, allowing only three goals all year.
The Year in Photos
Highline 1 Whatcom 0
When your goalkeeper is named Most Valuable Player in the Championship game, chances are you walk away with the title. And so it was with Highline defeating the Whatcom Orcas 1-0 behind Akili Kasim’s spectacular play in net and Dane Evanger’s goal at 58:39, assisted by Ryley Johnson. Ironically, this was the only goal in a wide open contest, with Whatcom getting the majority of the better scoring chances, especially in the waning moments as it pressed the Highline defense in looking for the equalizing goal. In the end it was a contest between Whatcom, with the league’s best offense (65 goals scored) against Highline, with the league’s stingiest defense (11 goals against). In this case, defense won out. And as for Highline’s offense, while it was Ryley Johnson, the team’s top scorer and Adama Kante (3 goals in the semifinal win over Spokane) who put the most pressure on the Whatcom defense, it was Evanger, the team’s third leading scorer, who boomed in what proved to be the game winner off an opportune bounce. For the Thunderbirds and its defense, that is all it took.
What made the win especially celebratory was that the Highline Women’s Soccer team had earlier that evening defeated Peninsula 1-0 for their first championship. One night, two goals, two shutouts, and two championships.
For the men, it was their first championship since 2014, and the second for Steve Mohn as head coach, and third overall, as he played on the 2004 Highline championship team. As Mohn told the Thunderword (the Highline College newspaper), ” Winning the NWAC championship as a player in 2004 was an awesome feeling. Winning it in 2014 in my first year as a [head] coach was unbelievable. It’s hard to find words on how happy I am for all the players and coaches. Being able to win it again this year has been incredible”.
NWAC Coach of the Year – Steve Mohn
Ryley Johnson, Adama Kante
Jinoh Bae, Gavin McLeroy,