Girls soccer team, depleted by graduation, starts afresh

Sean C. Morgan

The girls varsity soccer team is reloading this year after the departure of most of its experienced players last season.

“This is an oddball thing,” said Coach Ramiro Santana. “I’ve only got three players coming back from last year.”

All three, Ashley Wickline, Allison Wickline and Maddee Hawken, are juniors, Santana said. “These are the leaders right now.”

The team also includes three seniors, Lily Barton, Aspen Szubart and Brenna Boccardo. All three have played for Santana before. Szubart moved away and returned. Barton was out last year with an injury sustained early in the season, and Boccardo was a junior varsity player.

“We don’t have experience,” Santana said, and the starting squad isn’t set yet. The players will be competitive filling those spots.

The freshmen bring unusual amounts of speed, Santana said. “Somehow, somewhere we have to use it.”

They’re small players who “will make the team better,” he said.

They’re also aggressive and some are among the best at dribbling and control, he said. “I don’t really know right now what to expect.”

Santana tends not to determine what his starting lineup will look like early in the season, not until after a few non-league games; but this year, he said, he’s got even less an idea about how best to set up the team. By the third game, he expects to have a much better idea.

He does know where he will use his returning players, he said. Allison Wickline will lead the defensive end of the field, while Hawken will work the midfield and Ashley Wickline handles forward duties.

“They’re like the moms,” Santana said. “They’re going to carry the team.”

He’ll play Hannah Jewett at goalkeeper along with freshman Hailey Carr.

The team has two dozen girls, allowing the Huskies to field two teams, but Santana is hoping to see more new players out as school starts.

“We’ve got to grow,” he said. “It’s a building year for us, compared to everybody else. About five more players would help make us a better team.”

Around the league, La Pine has dropped to the 3A division, and Sutherlin has joined the Sky-Em.

Sisters is the team to beat, with six or seven returning players, Santana said. Junction City and Cottage Grove remain strong. He doesn’t know much about Sutherlin.

“We are the underdogs,” Santana said. “We lost eight seniors.”

Other players moved away, to Klamath Falls in Mackenzie Virtue’s case, Santana said. He noted sadly the loss of Caroline Huss in a car crash in December.

Varsity players are freshmen Cora McKee, Jessilyn Thomas, Milah Weld, Kennedy Stutzman and Hailey Carr; sophomores Hannah Jewett, Kenzi Adams, Chloe Newport, Hailey Nicholson, Kaylee Lewis and Chelsea Nicholson; juniors Sarah Dunkley, Lilly Parker, Isabelle Stratman, Maddee Hawken, Allison Wickline and Ashley Wickline; and seniors Brenna Boccardo, Lily Barton and Aspen Szubart.

Junior varsity players are freshmen Jessilyn Thomas, Cora McKee, Kendyl Stutzman and Milah Weld; sophomores Emilea Prentiss, Hailey Nicholson and Carissa Burge; and juniors Makenna Ashton, Amber Doles and Adrionna Davis.

With a work in progress, Santana sees a silver lining.

“It’s exciting to see the new faces.”