Seattle University freshman and Gig Harbor High School grad Leahi Manthei, the 2016 Class 3A South Sound Conference most valuable player, was vying for playing time early in the season in the start of her collegiate career.
In early September, she was subbed in against Idaho University. She went on to score a Division-I school record four goals against the Vandals that day.
Not bad for a freshman, coming off the bench.
“I was still fairly new — I wasn’t playing a ton,” Manthei said. “I just went in there and scored.”
It’s what she did best over the course of her high school career. The speedy forward had a penchant for getting behind defenses and finding the back of the net. Three of those goals came on the end of crosses, and another on a 1-on-1 with the keeper.
Interestingly, it came against former high school teammate Kaysie Bruce, who is a freshman for Idaho after a similarly star-studded career at Gig Harbor High.
“I talked to her after and gave her a hug,” Manthei said. “She just told me, ‘Great job,’” Manthei said. “And her parents congratulated me also.”
The record-breaking performance against Idaho launched Manthei’s career for the Redhawks, and has earned her more playing time this season.
“It definitely gave me a lot of confidence, created more opportunities for me to play more and start,” Manthei said. “It boosts my confidence a lot. It helped me play better.”
Manthei is currently second on the team with six goals and has appeared in 14 games for the Redhawks. Seattle University has posted a 5-8-2 record on the season and has three remaining regular season games prior to the WAC tournament.
She said playing in college has been an adjustment, after dominating high school opponents with relative ease.
“You’re playing against bigger, faster, stronger girls,” Manthei said. “The competition is higher. Your touches have to be on point all the time. It’s a lot faster, a lot more aggressive. You just have to be on your feet and be ready for anything.”
Manthei said the team has embraced her as a freshman.
“I love my teammates,” she said. “It’s been really fun.”
Her former coach at Gig Harbor, Stephanie Cox, said she isn’t surprised to hear Manthei is doing well in Seattle.
“She has massive amounts of athleticism,” Cox said. “I’m not surprised to see her be that successful at the collegiate level. I think the spacing is different, she probably has more space to take advantage of and use her speed and athleticism. She’s definitely a goal scorer. So it’s encouraging to see her put her stamp on the college level.”