NWPL FINAL Preview: A year later Timbers, Stars coaches preparing for championship rematch


A year ago the Washington Timbers and Seattle Stars faced off in the Northwest Premier League (NWPL) Final at Starfire Sports Stadium. Now it is July 2018 and the same two clubs under the leadership of the same two head coaches are counting down the hours until Saturday night’s kick off at French Field in Kent.

Saturday July 21, 6 PM – French Field, Kent, WA

NorthwestPremierLeague.com contacted both gaffers to get a sense of how they are preparing for the big game. For Washington Timbers’ Kat Tarr the challenge is to get her club ready to repeat. The memories of a nearly perfectly played 2017 Final (a 2-1 Timbers win) are still fresh. But they are just that, memories.

For Seattle Stars head coach Chris Wells a swell of emotions must be present as this match up brings to mind last year’s emotional farewell to Haylei Hughes, who passed away just before the match. Wells must consider how his Stars can complete an unbeaten season and take the title back from WTFC.

The two clubs met in May at Starfire with Seattle taking a 2-0 win.


Kat Tarr has guided the Washington Timbers to a second straight NWPL Final. (Alan Moditz)

Kat Tarr, Washington Timbers FC

How is your team this year different from last year’s?

wtfc-3starsMany of the players from last year are here this year as well. That is why I think this team is so special, we are seeing the players come back from last year excited and proud to put on the jersey. They have created a culture that is based on caring for one another no matter what, hard work above all else and a constant desire to be a better team. The difference from last year is that these players have a year of college soccer under their belt and are smarter players. We of course have new players that have come in that have meshed well with the team’s culture. We also have some players from last year that have stepped up into key roles, players that have grown into unbelievable role models for the younger players. It is a process I love to see and is how teams stay successful for years, not just seasons.


What can you take away from the earlier match between the two sides in May?

Seattle is, and will always be, a top team. They have a history of soccer in the city that has created an unbelievable youth soccer powerhouse, and a population of players that is tough to beat. Chris is a great coach and is a fantastic recruiter, you can see the respect his players have for him. As for lessons learned, Seattle came out with a three back that really allowed for them to attack with force and numbers up, when we met the three back it was a different game second half and I felt the teams were pretty even in chances on goal and ball possession. This final game will be like last year’s final, an exciting game with two top teams that will battle hard for the win.

What are your  keys for victory?

1. Be true to ourselves and the culture we have created.
2. Strong in the back line with focus on organization and patients against technical players.
3. Finishing the chances in the final third. Both teams will only get a few key moments, we obviously want to be the team that takes advantage of them.


Chris Wells and his Stars return to the NWPL Final in 2018.

Chris Wells, Seattle Stars FC

How is your team this year different from last year’s?

SeattleStarsFCLogo (1)I think the biggest difference this year from last is we know we have been chasing the Washington Timbers all season and have had the underdog feeling amongst the team. We know they’re the top team in the league and the ones everyone is playing for across the league. Last year, I think we knew Spokane was the defending champions, but with the staff and nearly all the players new, we didn’t see them the previous year to have the same feeling.

What can you take away from the earlier match between the two sides in May?

From the earlier meeting, I don’t think there is much to take from it. Both teams will be drastically different in many ways. We know the Timbers were a great team the first time we played them and will be a great team again the second time.

DSC_0323 (1)

What are your keys for victory?

I think with any playoff game, you have to be a little lucky with some bounces. Additionally, emotions will be high for both sides and that can sometimes make the game a little frantic, so who can harness those emotions and play within themselves will also be a big key. It’s a playoff game, as we see with all levels of soccer, whoever does the small things in these games will have a good chance to come out on top.

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