As local girls soccer teams return to the pitch, several have many questions to answer and holes to fill at key positions. Although a few dazzling stars graduated, there is still some high quality talent returning, and we highlight some of the key players after talking with local coaches.
The Lions appear poised to make another run to the state playoffs after falling in the state title game last fall, but will have to replace the goal-scoring ability of Narrows 4A MVP Stephanie Hamilton and other key players.
Senior first team all-league forward Danielle Nurmi provides a solid offensive threat up front and will be expected to carry the scoring load, and sophomore Kaylee Kebba leads a solid group of younger players.
“It’s going to be interesting because we’re going to have to see how our young players adjust and step into leadership roles,” said head coach Joe Waters. “They’re going to have to grow up quickly.”
Junior Hope Fleckner will lead the Lions in the midfield, and senior Lauren Fricke will be counted on to head up the defense. Senior goalkeeper Kiley Adams also returns after posting nine shutouts last year.
Count the Tigers as another team looking to replace some key graduates, and coach Lyndon Harrhy noted that the cast of young talent will have to learn on the fly.
“In an ideal world, you’d like the younger players…to ease into it,” Harrhy said. “It is a challenge. Some of the girls will have to be thrown into the deep end and learn from the experience.”
Stadium will be strong defensively, as junior goalkeeper Jordan Sallee returns along with senior first team all-league defender Bailey Edwards. Senior Allison Sedlacek is capable of playing in the midfield or as a defender, but Harrhy noted that the biggest challenge will be finding consistent goal-scoring threats up front.
The Vikings will also be getting significant contributions from younger players this year, with six freshmen on the roster, but coach Frank Hankel notes that they have mostly all played at a high level of club soccer.
Returning all-league midfielder Lanie Vinson is one of just four seniors on the squad, but will provide a solid presence in the middle. Junior midfielder Maddy Herron and junior midfielder/defender Alyssa Cabral will also be counted on to lead the Vikings.
“It’s a real cohesive group,” Hankel said. “They enjoy playing with each other and being around each other. There’s going to be some learning curves with a young team – but there’s a lot of positive things.”
Freshman forward Morgan Weaver is one of the talented young players who should step in and provide a scoring threat up front.
The Rams should once again challenge for the Narrows 3A crown, as they have a solid group of seniors and talented players returning at nearly every position.
Star forward Angela Celedon graduated, but the Rams return senior Brittainy Canonica – a second team all-league pick – and senior Alexa Blackman up front to provide a solid scoring threat. Sophomore Megan Chambers is a rising talent who will add to the group up front.
The Rams will be strong in the midfield, as seniors Kailey Norling and Avery Smalls will lead the group, and junior Olivia Pichette is talented and quick.
“We’re really trying to play some basic, fundamental soccer,” said head coach Angie Karabaich. “(We’re going to) use our outside midfielders to get as many opportunities as we can.”
Smalls will also be key to the defensive effort, while senior goalkeeper Danielle Rhea provides solid experience as the last line of defense.
The Abes hope that a solid turnout will continue to help the program grow, as first-year head coach Emily Abbott noted there will be a junior varsity team for the first time in several years.
Seniors Kaitlyn Downs and Sabrina Stewart look to lead the squad, and they offer the versatility of playing multiple positions on the field. Junior goalkeeper Heidi Leeder should help solidify the defense, something Abbott noted will be the first focus of the team.
“The girls are really starting to play well together, and play as one,” Abbott said, adding that fitness to play a full 90 minutes will be a key factor for the group as well.
Sophomore Joelle French is another versatile player who will be expected to contribute as well.
The Thunderbirds will have a solid group of returning players as they begin their first season in the Narrows 3A, headlined by junior second team all-league goalkeeper Nina Thach.
Senior midfielder Emily Hoefer and senior forward Chealang Hok will look to capitalize on scoring chances, while fellow senior Karissa Skidmore will be counted on to help lead the defense along with sophomore all-league honorable mention Georgianna Waldron.
“We’re all really excited about this year,” said head coach Deirdre Leonard. “We’ve got a lot of good players. They just work really well together.”
Freshmen Lezah Rodriguez and Akaiyasia Sumandig are two talented young players who are capable of playing multiple positions, and will be expected to contribute as well.
The Falcons will look to rely on an experienced defense to stay competitive, led by junior Tyfanni Chin, a two-time all-league second team pick.
Fellow junior Jessica Orosco also returns to help shore up the defense, but head coach Mark Kramer noted the squad is small in numbers and overall experience, which should present a challenge.
Sophomore Emma Rue-Johns returns to lead the midfield, but Kramer expects “significant contributions” from younger players in the midfield and up front.
The Eagles are another young squad, but feature athleticism as they look to improve against tough competition.
“It’s a building program, and it’s going in the right direction,” said head coach Keith Beasinger. “They actually play more like a team than we’ve ever seen.”
Junior midfielder Darby Huber returns and brings scoring ability and ball control, and sophomore Maddie Hood adds another experienced midfielder. Sophomore forward Katie Anderson also returns and brings a strong foot, ensuring that the Eagles should have a solid offense.
Having struggled in the past against top teams Seattle Christian, Cedar Park Christian and Bellevue Christian, the Eagles will look to surprise in the Nisqually 1A league with a maturing group that will only lose three starters in the next two years.