Photo from Falcon Archives, courtesy of Mark Moschetti
The 2008 season for Seattle Pacific University’s women’s soccer team began with a twinge of regret. The year before, the team had won 23 straight games before falling 2-0 in the Final Four to Franklin Pierce University.
Shannon Oakes, now Shannon Lynch, a member of the team in both the 2007 and 2008 seasons, acknowledges that the talented 2007 women’s team helped to build a foundation for the 2008 season.
“We might not have been as good of a team individually, (in 2008) but I think our teamwork, we really stepped up the teamwork aspect and were, I feel like in ways, a little less individual and just worked together as a team,” Lynch said.
The 2008 season did not begin entirely the way that the team wanted, as they tied their first game, and while they were winning games, it didn’t appear to Arby Busey, assistant coach of the team at the time and current head coach of the program, that the team was locked in.
“Certainly at the beginning of that season, I wouldn’t say that we were unstable, but we weren’t where we wanted to be, and it was trying to manage those different personalities and different people in the group to make sure that we got past all that stuff, cause we knew how talented we were,” said Busey.
As the season progressed, the team began to lock in and focus better together. From there, the only blemish on the team’s record was one loss and one tie to Western Washington later in the season. The Falcons again made it all the way to the final four, where Metro State University was waiting for them.
The team beat Metro State 3-1 to advance to the final, but even though the team came out with a win during the Final Four game, they suffered an injury to a key player. Defender Claire Grubbs, now Claire Fedele, suffered a leg injury as a result of a collision during the game.
“I got super injured in the semifinals game and was on crutches. After that I had to come out and I couldn’t walk,” said Fedele.
Even though she suffered an injury, she still contributed to the championship win, playing even as the game went into double overtime.
“Walking out there on crutches and getting to the line and seeing if I could run across and warm-up with the team to see if I could even use my leg. I was able to jog and I was like ‘Yes!,’ I’m able to do it. So that was just incredible,” said Fedele.
The championship game was a nail biter, going into double overtime and in weather conditions that they were familiar with.
“I remember it started to rain in Florida. It starts to drizzle and we were all like ‘this is a sign. This is our weather, this is our game,’” said Fedele.
After a tough game from both sides, the women’s team began to think about the possibility of the game being decided by penalty kicks. The feeling of anxiousness that arose from the thoughts of the penalty kicks quickly vanished and excitement soon filled the bench as midfielder Jenae Godoy shot the ball off a headed pass from Jocelyn Charette and found the back of the net. They had done it. They were champions.
“The cool thing about it was it was a moment that it was sudden,” Busey said. “When it happened, I didn’t move a muscle. I sat exactly where I was on the bench, I can remember the other assistant coach Kevin Blocker and I just sitting there kinda looking at each other going, ‘That just happened.’”
Midfielder Meredith Teague, now Meredith Hunter, who was named the National Player of the Year, said the connection between herself and the rest of her teammates pushed them to the championship, and she still speaks to some of them to this day.
“I felt like that season, believing that you can do it and everyone believing in that, and believing that you have it inside of you and doing that every game. And doing it collectively together just felt very powerful and I think that’s one thing that’s really stuck with me,” Hunter stated.
The 2008 team did amazing things on the field, but the players’ journeys did not stop there. Hunter decided to travel to Germany, where she tried out for soccer clubs and stayed for a year.
She then came back to Seattle, where she met her husband and is raising two daughters. Hunter then went into the design field and now owns her own designing company.
“So I have my own design business, which I love, and we live in Seattle… I’m grateful for my soccer career. It taught me a lot of who I am and a lot of what I’m capable of. And a lot of things of what really good leadership looks like or what a teammate looks like off the field” stated Hunter.
Fedele, after graduating, began her teaching career, going to New Orleans to teach for four years, and then headed to Tanzania, West Africa. Once there, she started a non-profit called Shade, that works with children who have albinism.
Fedele moved back to the U.S. in 2018 to Washington with her husband and is now the international director of the organization she began on her travels to Africa.
Lynch became a labor and delivery nurse in Boise, Idaho, where she now resides with her husband, who was also an SPU basketball athlete, and her three children.
Lynch made it to the national championship twice in her career in SPU.Since Lynch has experience winning the national championship, she shared what it takes to get there.
“It is just a lot of perseverance. I think there is just going to be a lot of ups and downs… a lot of emotional highs and emotional lows,” Lynch said. “I would just say to really slow down, take it in, enjoy it and know it doesn’t last forever… and they are really some of the best years of your life.”