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Girls soccer preview: Gonzaga Prep aims for new heights with sisters Chelsea Le, Kyah Le

While it might not be proven science, the sibling telepathy between Chelsea and Kyah Le is strong on the soccer pitch.

Junior Chelsea and sophomore Kyah have an innate ability to find each other on the soccer field, even when they aren’t vocal about it.

Chelsea doesn’t have to call for the ball, Kyah and the ball find her. Kyah said she can hear Chelsea’s voice in the back of her head during games.

“She is way better at knowing what pass to make,” Chelsea said. “She finds my feet all the time and I don’t even have to say anything. I don’t even have to call for the ball and she just knows. She’s fun to play with. I love her.”

The two are important pieces on the G-Prep’s girls soccer team, which is looking to make school history this season with a deep run into the postseason.

“The level of seriousness with training and the preparation that they bring into the season has helped deepen the quality of soccer here at Gonzaga Prep,” fifth-year head coach Billy Barmes said.

Greater Spokane League teams begin the new season Friday, including the Bullpups hosting the Kamiakin Braves in nonleague play.

Expectations are high for G-Prep, and the elder Le wants to fulfill the team-wide aspirations.

“We have big goals in mind,” Chelsea said. “We want to make it to state, we want to be the first Gonzaga Prep team to do something big.”

G-Prep is hoping for a reverse result after losing to the Braves 3-2 in last season’s opening match.

“I say we need to focus on the first game this Friday against Kamiakin, because getting a win in the first game of the season is going to set us off,” Chelsea said.

The Le sisters are two anchors of the Bullpups’ midfield, using their pace and technical ability to advance the ball forward out of the back.

Starting soccer at age 6, the youngest age SYSA offered at the time, the Les have spent plenty of time perfecting their craft. Although soccer has had such an impact on their lives, they never felt pressure to play

Their father played soccer at Whitworth. Chelsea was named after Chelsea Football Club, a top-flight team in the English Premier League.

“(Dad) never forced it on me, and I think that is why I haven’t burnt out or anything, because he used to take us out to Plantes Ferry and just play,” Chelsea said. “He wasn’t running drills or anything, but now I ask him to and he does.

“But my mom makes it fun, too. She’ll come play with us, and that is interesting.”

Both sisters cited longtime soccer and developmental coach Kevin Moon as a key figure in their development. Moon is the Spokane Soccer Academy director and coach for many teams in the area, at the youth and college level.

“He has really just shaped my soccer career, and I would not be in the place I am, with college and everything (without him),” Chelsea said.

Chelsea and Kyah spent their summer playing soccer, but in different ways. Chelsea won three tournaments with the Spokane Sounders (coached by Moon), taking first in the Crossfire Challenge, Washington State Cup and San Diego Surf Cup, the latter being the first time a Spokane team has won the California tournament.

The Spokane Sounders are ranked first in Washington and 12th nationally for girls under 18 teams by GotSoccer.com, a leading resource for club soccer rankings.

Kyah was invited by soccer scouts to participate in the Elite Clubs National League national training camp in Portland in July, where she trained alongside two of the top women’s professional teams in the world, Paris Saint-Germain (France) and Manchester City FC (England).

“The ECNL national training camps are set up to provide the most professional soccer development environment in the country for young female players, and to inspire them to greater heights in the future,” ECNL girls president Christian Lavers said in July.

Kyah was selected as one of the top 11 players among the 95 in training.

“It was pretty awesome, but it was just really fun to be around everyone and see the other competition for my age,” Kyah said.

The sisters both sport 4.0 grade-point averages and plan on advancing to the next stage in their soccer careers after high school.

“It is just opportunities for the future,” Kyah said. “If you slack off during school, you don’t know what colleges are out there. They look at everything, so you want to make sure you are setting yourself up to be a great player and person.”

Barmes knows he has two special players on his team, and has supreme confidence in their abilities.

“They both will play Division I soccer,” he said. “Fitness and technically, they are operating already where Division I and even high Division I athletes are performing.”

The Bullpups don’t play a GSL opponent until Sept. 6 when they travel to face Mt. Spokane. Their schedule is backloaded with the league powerhouses, Mead and Central Valley. It would not be surprising to see the league champion crowned in the final 10 days of the season.

“We have a strong team and we will find out a lot Friday and Saturday,” Barmes said. “We do have a very strong roster this season, and we selected a team where everyone will contribute right from the get-go.”

CV and Mead have finished first and second, respectively, for the last two seasons. The Bullpups will look to shake up the top of the GSL standings and make their mark in the postseason.

Central Valley (18-1-0, 9-0-0-0 last season): The Bears will start their new season with first-year head coach Rob Rowe. He’s no stranger to Spokane-area soccer, having built Freeman into a highly successful program. But the Greater Spokane League will be a different animal to tame. Expect Central Valley to find itself among the top teams again this season, with the offensive and defensive MVPs from a season ago leading the Bears. Seniors forward Maggie Ames and defender Alyssa Molina lead an experienced squad hoping to return to the state title game.

Mead (10-5-1, 6-1-0-2): Defense will be the key for the Panthers. Their back line graduated, so it will be imperative for Mead’s defense to quickly jell. The Panthers lost seven starters, but return a strong core of four players. Out are Emma Morse and Katie Kuka, two first-team all-GSL players. In are a lot of players needing to step up for the talent drain that Mead experienced after a second-place finish in the league last season.

Lewis and Clark (11-5-2, 5-2-1-1): Speaking of a talent drain, the Tigers lost Paige Malm and Jackie Brown, two first-team all-GSL players, as well as two second-team members and an honorable mention to graduation. Offense shouldn’t be a pressing issue as seniors Camryn Gardner and Carolyn Moravec return to bolster the attack. A few underclassmen will be pushing for starting roles. Health will be important for LC, which already has lost a starter to a torn ACL.

University (10-8-0, 4-4-1-0): Former Titans star Kara Sharpe (Jordan) returns to U-Hi to coach a roster gouged by graduation. Eight starters are gone, but the new-look team will be led by the Crosby sisters. Senior Kelsey Crosby, a two-time, first-team all-GSL player, will look to improve on her seven-goal, seven-assist season. Her sister, junior Gracen Crosby, plays in a more defensive role, but her ability to play out of the back will be valuable. In general, the Titans will have pace all over the field.

Mt. Spokane (9-9-1, 4-5-0-0): Ryan Campanella left this summer after 13 years on the Wildcats’ sideline. His replacement, Shannon Stiles, is responsible for keeping Mt. Spokane near the top of the 3A GSL standings. She will need a few players to bounce back after torn ACLs ended their seasons prematurely. Senior keeper Averie Carlsen gives the Wildcats a strong presence.