Gig Harbor High senior Leahi Manthei, a Seattle University commit, is nothing less than a goal-scoring machine for the Tides.
She leads the team with 20 goals, and it’s not particularly close. The next closest is senior midfielder Kaysie Bruce, who has 10 goals for the Tides.
“I’m feeling confident,” Manthei said. “I think we’ll go far in state, maybe even win it.”
Nothing the Tides have done this season makes her claim seem like a reach. The numbers are eye-popping. Gig Harbor boasts a 12-0 record and is 10-0 in the Class 3A South Sound Conference. This season, Gig Harbor has outscored its opponents 79-7. Only four opponents have even scored a goal on the Tides. In the last four games, the Tides have scored 31 goals. Their opponents, over that span? One goal.
“I’ve noticed we’re able to score goals more than last year,” Manthei said. “Everyone is coming together to score. It’s not just one person.”
It’s a total team effort, anchored by a stingy back line and a pressing mentality. Manthei, with all her speed up top, has benefited the most.
“She looks really great,” said second-year coach Stephanie Cox. “She’s an out-and-out goal scorer. She knows how to position herself. Obviously, she’s a great threat for us with her speed and athleticism. Really, what I’m most impressed with is her mentality, her approach and her commitment. I think she’s really stepped up leadership-wise to another level this year.”
The offensive attack seems more cohesive this year, said forward Bailey Werner.
“We’ve been working a lot on communication and attacking in the final third as a team,” Werner said. “We’re working on pulling up our outside backs, just communicating and involving everyone.”
Gig Harbor is indeed able to send numbers forward thanks to its defense, which has suffocated opponents. It’s a strategy that has paid dividends, as the Tides jump out to big leads and bury teams early.
“This year, we’re kind of taking it to the next level,” Cox said. “We talk about the goals that we have. We really want to win state. In order to do that, we just have to take it one game at a time and really take advantage of every opportunity. That’s what my message has been to the girls: Make the most out of your time on the field.”