LAKEWOOD — For the Cougars girls soccer team, the 2012-13 season is about building up from last year and shaping a team that will be strong for years to come.
First-year coach Steve Brown, who replaced Jeremiah Wohlgemuth two weeks before the season began, is working with a group of young players and hoping to build up a viable program.
“We lost 12 players last year, 11 to graduation and one switched to cross country,” said Brown. “There are only a few returning players this year.”
According to Brown, returning varsity players that have been critical are Kennady Bonnallie, Cassidy Fry and Maddie Holmes on defense and Hailey Duitsman in the midfield.
Last year’s team placed in the top 16 in the state, so expectations are high for the current Cougars team. They had to start from the basics to work their way up.
“Since I am a first year coach, there was a lot of familiarization with me and with each other in the beginning. We were trying to figure out where the kids would work out the best,” said Brown. “Once the teams were established, we really focused a lot on the development of the team and getting them to work together.”
With a group of young players, building team efficiency is important because most of the girls have different soccer backgrounds.
“They all play on select teams, but they are all on different select teams. A lot have never played together at the school level,” said Brown.
The first two games of the season were non-league contests, including their first game against the 3A level Shorewood, which ended in a 1-0 loss for the Cougars, and a 3A level Marysville Getchell game that ended in a 0-0 tie.
“Some of our skills that have been obvious in the first few games are in our defense,” said Brown. “We don’t give up a lot of goals. Part of that is because three of our four returning players are on defense.”
In turn, offense was a bit of a struggle for the team at first. “We went three and a half games before we scored. There are a lot of freshman and sophomores on the team and we are focusing on getting the offense all on the same page,” said Brown.
But even with a young team, the group managed to outscore South Whidbey on Sept. 20 in a 3-1 victory, which Brown attributes to the team focus.
“We are just focused on our skills and it’s starting to show.”
According to Brown, some newcomers or new varsity players that have done really well are Aly Eastman and Kendal Hurd in the midfield, Jennaka Larson as a goal keeper and Stephanie Smith as forward.
Upcoming games that should prove exciting are the Oct. 2 home game against Archbishop Murphy and the Oct. 9 home game against Granite Falls. The Cougars already played Archbishop Murphy and Granite Falls in away games, but lost 1-0 in both games.
“Those games are going to be really exciting,” said Brown. “We only lost 1-0 to Archbishop Murphy and they didn’t even score until the last 13 minutes of the game. With the game being at home, they really like their chances and they are confident they will do better the second time around.”
The Cougars face Sultan at home on Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. and Cedarcrest away on Sept. 29 at noon.