Today is Jan. 7 — one month later — and only now is Erin Huisingh letting things sink in.
The Chiawana High School graduate is part of the Concordia College women’s soccer team, based in Portland, that won the NAIA national title last month in Orange Beach, Ala.
The Cavaliers defeated Westmont College of California 1-0 on Dec. 7 for the title.
“It was weird,” Huisingh said. “It was so surreal. It’s just starting to set in now. Our situation was a little different, because it was literally a week before finals.”
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The team won, went out to dinner to celebrate, then packed and flew out at 6 a.m. the next day so the players could get back to Portland to study and take their final exams.
“And when we got back to school, everyone was focused on school and finals,” Huisingh said.
And of course, after finals, everyone scattered to their family homes to celebrate the holidays.
So maybe there will be time to celebrate as school at Concordia resumed on Monday.
And there is a lot to celebrate.
There is the championship, the program’s first national title.
There is the 21-1-1 record.
Huisingh’s teammate, senior midfielder Hannah Kimsey, was named NAIA National Player of the Year.
Another teammate, senior defender Samantha Johnson — who played at Walla Walla Community College before coming to Concordia — joined Kimsey as a first-team NAIA All-American.
Another teammate, junior midfielder Jasmin Ayala, was an honorable mention All-American selection.
For her efforts, Huisingh — a junior midfielder — was named third-team All-American.She scored seven goals and eight assists this season.
“Our team has been to nationals before,” said Huisingh, who played in the NAIA title game two years ago as a freshman in a loss. “Every year we see that we always have something more to achieve. After that (title game win), we had gone as far as we could. It was so satisfying.”
But the best part, said Huisingh, was seeing Concordia Coach Grant Landy so emotional after the title win.
Landy has a 174-10-7 record at Concordia in 17 years, winning Cascade Collegiate Conference titles 15 of those seasons. Three previous times, his squads have played in the NAIA title game, only to lose.
“He’s such an amazing coach, and he gets us prepared for games,” Huisingh said. “He said it’s nice to be crying tears of joy for once. Just because he and his wife (Angela) put so much into this team. It was nice to see him win. A lot of times he doesn’t get the credit he deserves.”
According to Huisingh, Concordia has been the right choice for her.
As a standout at Chiawana, she probably could have easily played at a Division I school.
“I kind of wanted to go to a smaller school so I could benefit with a smaller classroom setting, a better teacher-to-student ratio, that would benefit my academics,” she said. “Concordia stood out.”
An Exercise in Sports Science major with a minor in psychology, Huisingh said she’s grown up not just in the classroom, but on the soccer field as well.
“Coming from Chiawana, I wanted to be a scorer like I was there,” she said. “My freshman year, that didn’t happen. But I’ve been a much more well-rounded player the last few seasons. I love to make an assist as much as score a goal.”
Next season, as a senior, she’ll be looked upon from her teammates for more of everything.
“I’m gonna have to step it up more,” she said. “I think Grant will look to me to be more of a leader my senior year. I’ve had a lot of people to look up to the last three years. I definitely want to be that leader.
“I love having things to work on.”
She could start with that victory party.