- About Us
Girls soccer teams have one goal in common: make the playoffs
If all goes according to plan on the pitch, this should be a bounce back season for the girls soccer teams from Kentwood and Kentlake while Tahoma looks to replicate its success of 2012.
Tahoma looks to reload
A year ago Tahoma, led by six seniors, went undefeated in South Puget Sound League 4A North play, lost to Skyline in the state semifinals before finishing the season with a third place trophy and a 21-1-0 record.
This season the Bears look to reload with a fresh crop of talent along with a handful of returning starters with significant experience to lead the squad.
“It’s a lot harder at the start because everyone left, so we have to build from the ground up,” said senior goalkeeper Jenna Sloan.
Bailey Martoncik, a senior who plays center mid, explained that as captains they have tried to teach the new players how they play Tahoma soccer.
Cheyenne Haverfield, a senior who plays in the middle of the defense, said it will be important for her to lead well from that position because of the new players but she is confident they will come together because they are solid fundamentally.
Sloan noted that many of the players worked harder in the offseason by hitting the weight room and working out more. Some of the girls who did so were surprising. She said the benefits of the extra work the team did will be evident on during matches.
“It just made up physically stronger,” Sloan said. “It’s easier to stay on the ball. We’re fitter.”
Stepping it up should make it easier for Tahoma to accomplish what the team hopes to do this fall.
“We set some individual goals,” Haverfield said. “We also set team goals. We would like to take league again and get to state, then take it from there.”
Martoncik said one of the strengths of the Bears is their versatility offensively.
“In the attack, we have a lot of players who can interchange among all five positions,” Martoncik said.
And defensively, Sloan said, they are strong even with several players injured because it’s allowed some players to get time in training at those back line positions.
If there is one opponent on the schedule Tahoma wants to play, Sloan said, it’s definitely against their division rival Kentwood.
“Our senior night is on Halloween against Kentwood,” Sloan said. “That’s pretty much a natural rivalry. We grew up in it.”
Haverfield added, “They’re usually pretty equal to us, so, it makes for good games.”
Kentwood sets sights on return to state
A year ago Kentwood was knocked out of the district playoffs, marking the first time in eight years the Conquerors didn’t appear in the 4A girls state soccer tournament.
This season Kentwood returns all but three players from its 2012 team, making it one of the more experienced teams in the division.
“This is the first time in a long time it’s all upper classmen on varsity,” said senior goalkeeper Megan Charlton. “Yes, (the experience) would help. I know everyone. I didn’t have to get to know how anyone plays.”
Junior forward Jennifer Oak, who scored four goals and tallied four assists last season, said the three girls who graduated were strong performers. Still, she feels like the Conks have a good shot of returning to the state tournament.
“I think we’re all just better connected to each other,” Oak said. “Our overall big goal is to win league like we did two years ago. It puts us in a good position going into (district) crossovers.”
Winning the SPSL North, something it seems like Kentwood seems to trade off with Tahoma in recent years, is a boost, Charlton said.
“It really sets a high standard going into the postseason,” Charlton said. “The SPSL North and South are probably two of the toughest leagues.”
In order to get back to state, Oak said, it will take a change of mindset.
“We need to have a great attack system,” Oak said. “We honestly just need to score. We just need to attack the goal and score.”
This is a shift from a more defensive-minded approach Charlton said Kentwood has taken in recent years.
Another shift for Charlton and Oak is a greater focusing on conditioning by head coach Aaron Radford.
“At tryouts Radford saw we were low on fitness,” Charlton said. “So, every Thursday he’s had us running, like 12 minute runs and sprints. We work hard at practice.”
Better conditioning and a focus on offense will also require a different speed of play, Oak said, because they discovered at a recent jamboree how much quicker other varsity squads move compared to how they have scrimmaged in practice against the Kentwood junior varsity.
Charlton said that stepping up speed of play in matches is something they will continue to work on.
And when it comes to rivalries, they look forward to playing Tahoma just as much as the Bears can’t wait to take on the Conks.
“Because we’ve been really close competitively,” Charlton said. ‘And because they’re two miles away.”
They also look forward to playing Kentridge, which is led by a former Conks assistant Sherri Rolfs.
“We have a lot of friends on Kentridge, so, we want to kick their butts,” Oak said.
Ultimately, Charlton said, rivalries aside, the players on the Kentwood girls soccer team knows what they want to accomplish this season.
“We’re determined this year,” Charlton said. “Everyone has the right mindset — we want to go far, we want to beat the teams we’re supposed to beat.”
And start a new string of state tournament appearances.
Young Kentlake looks for a playoff spot
Kentlake came up one win short of making the playoffs in 2012 and though eight seniors from last year’s team graduated, the goal is to get back to the postseason.
“We’re very young,” said junior goalkeeper Chloe Young. “We have a young roster.”
So young, in fact, the Falcons have just one senior, Hailey Hole, a senior who plays center mid.
“This is going to be a building year for us,” Hole said. “This year we’re going to get down to business. There’s going to be a lot of changes.”
Just because Kentlake is young, Hole said, doesn’t mean they won’t be competitive.
“All of these girls we have picked up, they want to work hard,” Hole said. “They want to be better than varsity was last year.”
Junior forward Timary Mathena said being a young team has allowed the Falcons the opportunity to get to know one another, to bond better, and she is impressed by the effort her teammates put in before practices officially started.
“Those who will be in the core roles, they really stepped up this summer,” Mathena said.
Young noted that she is pleased with how the defensive players have committed to the team.
“They’ve worked really hard so we can have good communication and good chemistry,” Young said.
And while the team may be youthful, Mathena said, there are some experienced players.
“Our offense is mostly returners,” Mathena said. “So, we know how everyone works.”
Hole said the dynamics on the team have changed for the better which should translate into success during games.
“Our team is really good at pushing each other to get better in practice,” Hole said. “That’s something I’ve noticed this year. It’s a lot more open. It’s a lot more equal.”
Mathena added that rather than there being divisions among the different age levels of the players — the seniors are not teasing the freshmen, for example — everyone is part of a team effort.
This should help them make a post-season push.
“We really want to make the playoffs,” Mathena said. “Last year was really disappointing. We were one win away. And we didn’t make it.”
A loss to Mount Rainier late in the season was the difference between making the playoffs and staying home.
Hole is confident things will be different this year.
“Our work ethic will show through in our games,” Hole said. “If we play to our potential, then we’ll get there.”
And just because the Falcons replace eight players from a year ago, Young said, that doesn’t mean they won’t come to play hard.
“I feel like people are going to underestimate us,” Young said. “Don’t count us out.”