Washington Women Rule

Integral to the formative phase of the U.S. National Team program, Washington’s women are, if anything, more prominent when the first phase culminates in a world championship. Four young women from Puget Sound wore the national colors that November night in Canton, China and then celebrated that victory into the wee hours.

It was a struggle that only a close circle could possibly appreciate. The players were compensated by a mere pittance while sacrificing their day job careers. Only pockets of U.S. media share news of that first FIFA Women’s World Cup, and the team returns home to precious little fanfare.

But three weeks later, a local homecoming is held for Michelle Akers, Amy Allmann, Lori Henry and Shannon Higgins – and hundreds of adoring fans squeezed in should to shoulder. For all intents and purposes, it’s the retirement part for the latter three. Akers, whose two goals in the final and 10 altogether lift her into some limelight, will play another nine years.

It is the beginning, and often those whose sweat and toil take place in breaking new ground are not around to bathe in the applause when the capstone is applied.

Each of Washington’s World Cup Four had been forced to go elsewhere in the Eighties to play for college scholarships. By 1991, that changes. Both the University of Washington and Gonzaga begin play, joining Washington State among Division I. It takes the Huskies only a couple weeks to find their way into the national rankings. Statewide, there are now a total of 11 varsity collegiate programs. Those who elect to stay home once more prove quite formidable.

Pacific Lutheran continues to be one of the most powerful programs in the state, at any level, and once again rules NAIA. The Lutes of Colleen Hacker win their third national title in four seasons while playing in four straight finals (they also tied both Washington and Portland).

Season Record
25-27, 3rd MISL Western Division; 1st Round
Keith Weller (2nd year)
Top Scorer
Gary Heale (35 goals)
Men's Collegiate Postseason
Seattle Pacific, NCAA Division II quarterfinals
Women's Collegiate Postseason
Pacific Lutheran, NAIA champion
NCSC Men's Champion
Seattle Pacific
NCSC Women's Champion
Seattle University
NWAC Men's Champion
Skagit Valley
WIAA Boys Champion
AAA-Mountain View, AA-Mount Rainier, A-Bellevue Christian
WIAA Girls Champion
AAA-Sammamish, AA-Kennedy, A-Forest Ridge
Pam Copple
Member Associations
79,022 (b: 56,529; g: 22,493)
Largest Attendance
7,342, Tacoma Dome, Tacoma Stars v St. Louis (3/16)


1991: Washington Women Rule

A U.S. National Team featuring four Puget Sound natives wins the inaugural FIFA Women’s World Cup in China. Michelle Akers scores 10 goals, including a brace in the final.

Mt. Rainier, Mountain View Prevail
May 25, 1991

Mount Rainier claims its fourth 2A state boys championship via penalties (0-0 5-4) at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup. Mountain View defeats Cascade, 1-0, on Jeremy Britton’s early second-half strike. The Bruins were playing in their fifth consecutive 3A state final.

Stars' Beating Begets Beating
March 30, 1991

Forty-eight hours after being blasted, 11-2, in San Diego, the Tacoma Stars respond by beating the Sockers, 10-2, behind Bill Crook’s first career hat trick. the win clinches the West's third and final playoff berth.

PLU Women Win 3rd NAIA Title
November 29, 1991

Goals by Shari Rider and Wendy Johnson lead third-seeded Pacific Lutheran to its third NAIA national women's soccer championship in the past four years. The Lutes defeat Missouri Valley College, 4-0, at Patch Reef Park, Boca Raton. Rider is named tournament MVP.

Seattle Pacific Win Streak Reaches 9
October 30, 1991

Two goals from Jason Farrell spark 6-0 SPU win over Seattle University at Shoreline Stadium, the Falcons’ longest single-season win streak at nine games.

Aviation West Boys Fly High
February 10, 1991

Aviation West of Highline SA soars to a fourth state cup in five years by going out winners of the boys U19 tournament. Three members of the team – Ben Erickson, Joey Mancuso and Rob Lebelle – are chosen for the U20 National Team.

Hundreds Greet WA's World Cup 4
December 24, 1991

Michelle Akers, Amy Allmann, Lori Henry and Shannon Higgins return to Seattle and a reception with hundreds of local fans, including Governor Booth Gardner, at Mercer Island Community Center. Allmann, Henry and Higgins all announce they are retiring. They and Akers, regarded as the best female player in the world, earned only $1,000 per month from U.S. Soccer.

Washington U23s Wins Donnelly Cup
July 28, 1991

Tom Fuegmann of Seattle University scores a pair of goals and Jason Dunn, a transfer from Washington to SPU, gets the third as the Washington state U23 team wins the George F. Donnelly Cup, 3-2, over host New Jersey in Newark. Fuegmann, Jason Farrell and James Dunn all receive invitations to the Olympic Sports Festival. Washington was unbeaten (12-0-2) during its run through regionals and nationals.

Dunn, SPU Upsets Portland
October 5, 1991

Jason Dunn’s goal in the 68th minute gives D2 Seattle Pacific the 1-0 upset defeat of Portland, ranked 20th in D1. It’s Cliff McCrath’s 300th win with the Falcons.

Federal Way, Kennedy Win State
November 23, 1991

Defending 2A girls champ Kennedy beats previously perfect (20-0-0) Seattle Prep, 4-0 in the championship game. Behind Sheralyn Stackhouse (2) and Justi Baumgardt goals, Federal Way halts high-scoring Mercer Island, 5-1 for the 3A crown at Shoreline Stadium. Bellevue Christian wins the boys A-B title, 3-2 in overtime, over Charles Wright.

Huskies Win 10th Game of First Season
November 2, 1991

Behind Kathleen Juergens’s brace, Washington finishes its first varsity women’s season seven-game unbeaten run and 10-6-2 overall by beating Simon Fraser, 4-0, at Everett High School.

Key Date
Seattle University coach Peter Fewing after a 1-0 exhibition result vs. Washington

The irony is that game (against UW) counts for nothing, not in the league, not in the NAIA. But it means everything to our players, that they can play with big teams. They're shaking the image of the past.

Hispanic Leagues Growing Fast
August 4, 1991

Leagues are becoming increasingly popular in eastern Washington, from Tri-Cities to Wenatchee. Migrant farm workers from Mexico and Central America flock to teams. Combined, the Yakima and Lower Valley leagues have about 30 teams and 600 players since starting in mid-Eighties.

Henderson Goes Pro
August 8, 1991

Chris Henderson announces he will sign with the USMNT and forego his final two years at UCLA. Henderson has started the last 16 games for the U.S. He was the fourth-youngest player on the 1990 World Cup team.

SPU Edges UW for NCSC Crown
November 6, 1991

Seattle Pacific beats Washington, 3-2, to decide NCSC title behind Jason Farrell’s goal and two assists. Huskies Chris Sarver’s brace does snap Marcus Hahnemann’s 11-game shutout streak (989 minutes).

Hat Trick Has Few Witnesses
April 11, 1991

Gary Heale scores three goals as the Tacoma Stars square their first-round MISL playoff series with a 4-3 overtime home win before only 2,760. The Storm, featuring former Tacoma standout Preki and Brian Schmetzer, win the series decider, 9-2, two days later in St. Louis.

Huskeis Win Women's Debut
September 9, 1991

Washington wins its women’s varsity debut at San Diego State, 2-0, as freshman Rhonda Klein of Puyallup scores in the 65th minute and Amy Hamamoto adds insurance goal

Henderson Goes Distance in Gold Cup
July 7, 1991

Chris Henderson plays the full 120 as USMNT wins first major tournament, the inaugural Gold Cup in Los Angeles, beating Honduras (0-0 4-3). The Everett native starts all five Gold Cup matches.

Falling Stars Close-Out Year
December 29, 1991

After losing their fourth straight, 7-6 in overtime at Dallas, the Tacoma Stars head into 1992 with a 5-10 record, with five of those losses by one goal, three in overtime.

UW Women Fast Track to Top 20
September 19, 1991

Two weeks into their inaugural season the Washington Huskies receive a No. 20 national ranking after drawing, 1-1, at No. 16 Portland.

UW Men Shock UCLA
September 15, 1991

Eric Penner scores in the 111th minute as Washington shocks top-ranked and defending NCAA champ UCLA, 2-1, in the Husky Classic title game at Interlake High School. Shannon Murray scores equalizer before 1,165.

Falcons Go Out of NCAA on PKs
November 23, 1991

Third-ranked Seattle Pacific draws 3-3 with Cal Poly SLO but falls 3-1 on penalties in NCAA quarterfinal that is later overturned as forfeit.

Falcons Notch 8th Straight Shutout
October 27, 1991

Top-ranked Seattle Pacific, getting early goals from Jason Dunn and Jason Farrell, wins its eighth straight – all by Marcus Hahnemann shutout – over Whitworth, 4-0, at Newport High School in Bellevue.

USWNT Wins World Cup on Akers Brace
November 30, 1991

Michelle Akers, 25 and 1984 Shorecrest graduate, scores both goals in 2-1 victory over Norway in first FIFA Women’s World Cup final before 59,000 in Canton. Akers intercepts a backpass for the winner into an empty net. She finishes with 10 goals in six games to lead the tournament. Shannon Higgins of Kent assists on the first U.S. goal. Winners will split $50,000.

Akers Erupts for Record 5 Goals
November 24, 1991

Michelle Akers scores a record five goals in in the first 47 minutes and the U.S. routs Chinese Taipei, 7-0, in the quarterfinals in Foshan. Akers’s masterpiece features two rebounds, a free kick, a penalty and a header.

U.S. Opens World Cup Play
November 17, 1991

USWNT opens play at first FIFA Women's World Cup in Panyu, China, defeating Sweden, 3-2. Washington natives Shannon Higgins and Michelle Akers are in the starting XI, and Higgins clears a Swede shot off the line. Thrilling experience, she say. "My heart was about to leap out of my body."

What's most impressive is the variety of ways she can beat a defender. She's so physical she just overpowers a smaller defender. If they put a bigger player on her she has the quickness to just blow past her.
USWNT coach Anson Dorrance on Michelle Akers
We had some real momentum going. Our program and our fan base (3,500) had been growing year to year. I feel badly about missing a year, but I think in the long run what we're doing is the best thing.
Bud Greer, FC Seattle owner, after deciding to go dormant for 1991
I think 10 years from now we will look back on a win here and see it as a beginning,
Michelle Akers after only a handful of people greet team upon its arrival home from a victorious World Cup in China.
Our potential is unlimited. We can easily be national champions - not this year, but it's a very realistic goal in the future.
Washington’s Jeannine Jensen, a transfer from PLU and member of the Huskies’ first-year varsity
We have the support of the university, but the details are significant and still must be worked out. It's a bit of a burnout from the Goodwill Games, but this is 1994 we are talking about, not 1992.
Gov. Booth Gardner, optimistic that Seattle will be a World Cup site despite lagging support from the community and University of Washington
It is one of the best sites we have seen. I think it would fit well into our program.
FIFA's Guido Tognoni after inspecting Husky Stadium as a potential 1994 World Cup site
After we won the World Cup, I didn't expect America to realize what we had done. The people who were closest to me, the ones who knew how hard I'd worked and how much I'd sacrificed, were the ones who were really disappointed. All I was hoping for was a bigger glimmer in the eyes of Americans when they looked at soccer.
Michelle Akers at a Mercer Island reception for the four Washington players on the USWNT squad
I used to go to Sounder games and thought Dave Gillett was the most handsome guy in the world. I've got a picture of just his butt in my scrapbook.
Michelle Akers on her soccer idol as a Seattle area youth
They were complaining that we had some of the best female soccer talent in the country, and the UW didn't have a (varsity) soccer team.
Ken Hutchinson, state representative and proponent of providing women athletes more opportunities to play varsity sports
On this Day in History
February 19, 1977
Newport Bombers win fifth straight state title, this time as U19 girls, with 6-5 double overtime win (after trailing 5-3 with 2 minutes to go) over Highline Dirty Dozen at Renton Stadium.
More from 1977 ›
November 18, 2014
Stanford sophomore Jordan Morris makes his USMNT debut in 4-1 loss to Ireland. The Mercer Island native and Sounders Academy player of the year plays the final 14 minutes.“
More from 2014 ›
Hope Solo keeps a clean sheet versus Germany as the USWNT wins the Algarve Cup, 1-0, in Faro, Portugal. Solo, 23 and playing for Olympique Lyonnais, makes two saves and does not allow a goal in her three tournament starts. She goes on to start seven games altogether in 2005, all shutouts.
More from 2005 ›
A longtime park is transformed into a much-need 54-acre state-of-the art athletic facility celebrates its grand opening as Starfire Sports. On its first official weekend, 96 soccer teams and 62 softball teams from around the Pacific Northwest compete in tournaments at the $14 million complex. Local officials, including King County Executive Ron Sims and Tukwila Mayor Steve Mullet, turn out for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. known historically as Tukwila's Fort Dent Park, Starfire is the largest artificial-surface soccer complex in the U.S, and altogether it features eight fields plus four softball diamonds. An 80,000-square-foot indoor athletic center also holds the two indoor soccer fields. CEO Chris Slatt envisions Starfire, a non-profit organization, being open to people of all backgrounds and abilities, supporting free programs for underprivileged kids. Some training programs are conducted by coaches sent from Manchester United.
More from 2005 ›