Published Jul 1, 2022
Written By:  Sam Palmer
             West Region Contributor

Photos By: Melissa Levin Photography

Predicting the course of the Northwest Conference’s 2022 WPSL season was always going to be a fool’s errand, although that didn’t stop this author from trying. With a two-year COVID-enforced break from league play, significant changes in the conference’s membership, and massive squad turnover, even the clubs’ coaches and players would have been hard-pressed to predict their trajectory at the start of the season. Luckily, now that June has come to a close, it is possible to undertake an analysis of the season so far and try to make sense of it all.

As the league moves into its final month of the 2022 season and only a handful of regular-season matches remain, a look at the conference table should be our first step. Although the picture is complicated by matches in hand, the conference appears to have almost split into two miniature leagues.

The lower league is tightly packed and consists of OSA XF, Spokane Shadow, Eugene Timbers and ISC Gunners – all of which have mixed draws and tight losses with one or more impressive victories. Above this mini-league, separated by six points from the next-highest club, are the conference’s two top teams – PacNW and Westside Timbers. Both clubs have strung together impressive records with seven wins, four draws, and only one loss out of a total of 12 matches played combined.

With this sketch of the conference standings, we can move on to the narrative around each team, beginning with the ISC Gunners. The Issaquah women struggled to get a foothold in the early going, conceding seven goals in their first two matches. Their offensive ability was always evident, however, and their defensive improvement has allowed them to pick up some hard-fought results in recent weeks.


Melissa Levin Photography | PAC NW vs Eugene Timbers

The Eugene Timbers have had a rollercoaster of a season so far, with some tight losses interspersed with solid results against its state rivals, the Westside Timbers, and an action-packed victory against the ISC Gunners.

On the east side of Washington, the Spokane Shadow looked like it was off to a roaring start when it went undefeated in its first three matches, picking up five points before it played a single match at home. The Shadow then came up short in a home loss against a dynamic Westside Timbers side, but Kevin Moon’s team has much to be happy about from the month of June, including the impressive record of scoring at least two goals in every match so far.


Melissa Levin Photography | OSA XF vs ISC Gunners

OSA XF had to wait three weeks to play its third match after an opening weekend doubleheader, but it wasted no time in reasserting itself in the conference. Undefeated since its return to play in June, the Italo-Seattle side racked up five points during the subsequent three-match homestand, including a standout 2-2 draw against PacNW.

If Westside Timbers’ season started out a little drab, with a 0-0 draw away to Eugene, they quickly compensated with a barnburner at home against PacNW, winning 5-4 after scoring two unanswered goals just before full-time. Subsequent score lines have been less eye-popping, but no less flattering for the Portland women – their hard-charging style of play has left the Timbers the only club in the conference still without a loss.


Melissa Levin Photography | PAC NW vs Eugene Timbers

PacNW will remember that loss in Portland with bitterness, but it hardly distracts from what has been an otherwise outstanding campaign. The women in maroon brought an elegant passing style to the conference when they joined in 2019, and it has paid dividends for them as the club stretches its legs in the sophomore season. With 29 goals scored, more than double the second-highest tally, and the second-best defensive record in the conference, there has been some exemplary soccer played at Starfire Stadium this season.

In rain and sun, cool spring nights and blazing summer afternoons, the Northwest Conference’s 2022 WPSL season has seen just about every imaginable type of match in just over a month and a half. Every goal scored has been fought for; every goal conceded has been given up grudgingly. The players, coaches, and technical staff up here have worked themselves hard, and are almost at the finish line. But through the fatigue, the heartbreak, and the exhilaration, one sentiment does come through – after two long years, it’s good to be back.