Soccer has been described as the world’s game, and the global connection kicks into gear at a premium on the Northwest University men’s squad.
Players from the United States are joined by guys from South Korea, China, Nigeria, Germany, Brazil, Russia and Guam when the ball bounces into play on the Kirkland campus.
Head coach Gary McIntosh said the players from abroad place videos and resumes on an online recruiting service and he contacts the players to join his squad. Local players from Bothell, Shoreline, Renton, Redmond, Lynnwood and other nearby cities have set their sights on Northwest University and are part of the team as well.
“The chemistry with the team is amazing off the field. It’s something that we work on — trying to bring the right players here,” said McIntosh, noting that most of the international players speak English well, although there are some terminology barriers to cross. “They bring a different culture and attitude to the team, so that’s really nice as well.”
Kyler McIntosh, the coach’s son, said it’s fun to play alongside guys from different countries and get to know them well. Kyler — a redshirt sophomore who plays center midfielder — noted that freshman goalkeeper Alex Thiehofe from Bottrop, Germany has stepped into a key role on and off the pitch.
“He actually brought a bus tradition where we all sing on the bus,” Kyler said with a smile. “It’s just kind of fun to see what every guy can bring to the table. Off the field but also on the field, just kind of the way they see the game and the way that they wanna play.”
The Eagles, who were 2-2-0 at press time, will play their next home match at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 27 against Cascade Collegiate Conference opponent Rocky Mountain College of Billings, Montana. The conference sports 14 teams from Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho.
Gary, who enters his 17th season coaching at Northwest University and 23rd overall, said the Eagles have finished in the top three in their conference for eight of the last nine years.
Northwest’s roster is dotted with 16 returners and 15 newcomers, including 13 freshmen. Gary listed the Eagles’ top upperclassmen players as senior co-captain and forward Jordan Travis of Bothell, junior co-captain and defender Payton Gunhus of Renton, junior defender Dylan Murphy of Bothell and junior midfielder Kyle Han, a South Korea native who played on the Seattle Sounders U23 team. On the freshman front, there’s forward Elliot Misic, midfielder Gian Herrera and defender Jacob Moon, all of whom have Bothell ties. Herrera and Moon played ball for North Creek High last season.
“It feels great. We have a really good team chemistry, especially all over the field, so everyone feels like he is a part of the team. We work really hard. It’s a really good ability we have on the team, so I really enjoy playing here,” said Thiehofe, who visited the United States three times before attending Northwest, a place where he enjoys studying and playing soccer.
Travis, who played for the Inglemoor High squad, is the son of assistant coach Perry Travis.
Jordan is thriving in his leadership role as co-captain and aims to connect with players on and off the pitch. He wants to “give them the inspiration that they can look up to and know that someone’s rooting for them when they’re working hard.”
The fourth-year Eagle player would like to crack the back of the net a bunch this season against the talented competition that resides in the conference.
“It’s a good battle every time we play them. We’re always looking to upset and fight for that win,” Jordan said.
Kyler McIntosh has played for his father since the age of 12 and noted that while there are some challenges, it’s a fun atmosphere.
“Not a lot of people get to do that, so it’s really special that I get to play for him,” said Kyler. Father and son are always talking about soccer, and the discussion naturally continues into their home life in Lynnwood.
While the team is working on its chemistry in the early part of the season, Kyler knows that the Eagles will bring toughness to the pitch.
“I think one thing that we’ve always been good at — and it’s always kind of been the identity of Northwest teams — is hard work,” he said. “We’ve always ran the most and always worked the hardest, and you could see that off of anyone.”
• Northwest netted school records of 15 goals and 10 assists while shutting out Cal State Maritime on Sept. 7.
Travis notched his second consecutive hat trick and Han added two goals and four assists. Herrera, Noah Prophet, Misic and Justin Harden had two goals each, and Dmitry Zorchenko and Tyler Hopp also found the net.