Greater Spokane League
They say it every year: the Greater Spokane League girls soccer race will be tight.
That wasn’t the case last season, as Mt. Spokane ran the table and pre-season favorite Central Valley finished with just one loss before both teams, along with darkhorse Mead, enjoyed deep playoff runs.
And this year? Look for a four-team race that should also include Lewis and Clark, which returns all 11 starters from a squad that reached district.
“I think it’s going to be wide open this year,” said Mead coach Kevin Houston, whose team gets the nod from most coaches on the strength of eight returning starters, including All-GSL midfielders Kylie Drynan and Martha Heaps and forward Kara Marbury and second-team forward Anna Kessler.
Central Valley returns seven starters from a 14-3 team that reached the second round of state. Coach Andres Monrroy has some holes to fill on defense, but adds, “I feel really good about it, since we have three or four players on the bench (last year) who are adjusting really well.”
The Bears welcome back first-team All-GSL goalkeeper Jessie Kunz-Pfeiffer and forward Savannah Hoekstra. Defender McKenna Stocker was second team last year as a sophomore.
CV might be picked first if Monrroy could count on sensational freshman forward Kelsey Turnbow, a member of the USA National U14 team. “She’s absolutely amazing,” said Monrroy, who learned last week that Turnbow’s training obligations with the national team may limit her availability.
At Lewis and Clark, third-year coach Katie Himmerich believes the Tigers (5-4 in league last year) “have the opportunity to do some great things this year.”
That will start up front with senior forward Chloe Williams, who led the GSL last season with 16 goals. “She’s always a scoring threat and she’s hard to defend,” Himmerich said. “She’s a very calm, confident player, and the players around her feed on that.” Tigers defender Dani Greenwood, now a senior, was second-team All-GSL last season.
“We’re feeling pretty excited … a number of players have been on varsity for two years, some for three, and there’s a great level of experience,” Himmerich said.
Mt. Spokane was the surprise of the league last year, sweeping every title in sight until falling short in the 3A state title game to Columbia River, 2-1.
Coach Ryan Campanella has six returning starters, but adds that “some of the younger girls will have to step up to the challenge and possibly play in different positions compared to last year.”
The Wildcats return two first-team all-league players in midfielder Alyssa Lloyd and forward Katie Nilsson, plus a second-team selection in defender Ashlee Pedersen.
Gonzaga Prep should contend for a district berth thanks partly to a pair of all-leaguers in defender Kenna Simon and midfielder Madi Payne.
University reached the 3A regionals last year and returns seven starters, but won’t have the services of all-league defender Cassidy Walter, who suffered an ACL injury. The Titans return 16 players overall.
Great Northern League
West Valley already has justified its role as the favorite with a 3-2 win last week at Pullman and a 2-0 victory at home against East Valley.
Junior forward Morgan Williams knocked in the match-winner in the final moments of regulation to edge Pullman, and she scored the clincher with 12 minutes left against the Knights. Sophomore Rachel McGlothlen is back at goalkeeper for the Eagles.
East Valley reached district last year, but lost heavily to graduation and has just four upperclassmen on its roster.
Last year, Lakeside ran away with the Northeast A title, finishing 8-0 and reaching the state tournament. Forward Ashley Cook-Cox, the league’s offensive MVP, is back for her senior year. Newport looks to be the biggest challenger, returing a trio of all-conference players in Holly Malsbury, Sydney Hearnden and Jolie Frederick. Freeman lost a wealth of talent, but returns forward Casey Christiansen.
Last year, the top two teams in the state B tournament hailed from Spokane, as Northwest Christian finally beat St. George’s when it mattered most: in the state title game.
This year, both teams are off to a strong start, owning wins over larger schools. Erik Muelheims scored two goals and added an assist as St. George’s defeated host Lakeland 3-1 on Saturday.
Earlier in the week, Wilson Reidt and Clark Rabe scored two goals each to defeat Bonners Ferry 4-2.
|Predicted finish, GSL||4. Mt. Spokane||8. Shadle Park|
|1. Mead||5. Gonzaga Prep||9. North Central|
|2. Central Valley||6. University||10. Rogers|
|3. Lewis and Clark||7. Ferris|
|Predicted finish, GNL||3. Clarkston||6. Deer Park|
|1. West Valley||4. East Valley||7. Colville|
|2. Cheney||5. Cheney|