Husky girls soccer program hopes to benefit from new blood

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

Last year was a tough one for the Sweet Home girls soccer team, which went winless. The good news is the veterans are back and they’re joined by an infusion of freshmen, all of them already experienced in soccer.

Returning players include seniors Grace Wilson, Samantha Looney, Cassie Conrad and Jill Wilson; juniors Janessa Van Epps, Megan Moser and Larissa Bjornsen; and sophomores Leanna Blankenship and Kathy Wilson.

Joining them are freshmen Brianna Wirth, Kelsi Walker, Rochelle Zamacona, Jessica Snow and Alex Hawk, all of whom played junior high ball.

A couple of other veterans may return as well, Coach Eric Markell said, and a couple of the players, Grace Wilson and Van Epps did not play last year but did two years ago.

This is the most experience Markell has seen in the six years he’s been head coach.

“This is the first year I’ve coached that there isn’t a player who has not played soccer before,” he said.

The girls have only two weeks of practice before their first game, Markell said, but so far they’re “better than we have been in the past at this point.”

He has not had to start with the basics with this team, he said. Last week, they started knocking off the rust and getting into shape.

They will probably scrimmage the boys junior varsity team to get used to being back on the field, Markell said, and then they’ll be into the season.

The girls are in District Four, with a wide variety of teams, including Western Mennonite, Blanchett and a Lake Oswego church school but no Capital Conference teams. A couple of these teams will be good, Markell predicted. They will face only some of the schools, sometimes twice.

Last year was the first in which the Huskies won no games, Markell said. They played competitively with some teams and had some close games, but that leaves this team with nowhere to go but up.

“We’ve got that group of freshman players who were competitive at the eighth-grade level, which is different than high school,” Markell said, but it’s experience that may give them a competitive edge.

The new district leaves the team with a few unknowns, but it’s good for the team to have some new competition, Markell said.

As far as the makeup of the team, “no one is really standing out,” Markell said. “Everybody’s fairly even.”

Veteran Jill Wilson will play goalie again this year, Markell said. Hawk will also get some time in goal.

As far as the rest of the field, Markell will still be working out some positions early in the season as he sees how the team shapes up.

“I went to a camp in the off season and got some different ideas,” Markell said. He will try different formations and switch girls around as he sees how the team is working.

“I’m looking forward to this year,” Markell said. “Hopefully, our freshman group will help us. I just want to be competitive and give the parents and families something to watch and enjoy.”