Whatever the Newport High School/Eddyville Charter girls soccer team lacks in seniors, the Cubs certainly make up for it with a bevy of freshmen and sophomores with a good amount of experience playing together through youth programs.
That’s according to Newport head coach Travis Leonard, whose Cubs were scheduled to start the season Tuesday evening with a nonconference match against Seaside from the at 4A-1 Cowapa League. In fact, after the scheduled Lincoln County School District girls soccer jamboree the Cubs were set to host last weekend was canceled out of an abundance of caution, Newport won’t get to play a home match at Morrow Field until a Sept. 16 match against 4A-3 Oregon West Conference-rival Woodburn.
Leonard returns eight starters from last season’s team that went 0-1-1 in league play and 5-1-2 overall. Featured among Newport’s returnees are senior wing/defender Itzel Arizmendi, junior midfielder/defender Abby Green, sophomore midfielder Layla Newell, junior midfielder/wing Piper Thompson and junior goalkeeper Avonly Wolf.
Green, sophomore defender/midfielder Charlotte Gardner, Newell and Wolf were selections to last school year’s All-Lincoln County School District girls soccer team.
“Our strengths include strong midfielders with three returning and an incoming freshman with good technical/tactical ability,” Leonard said. “We have proven goal-scoring at forward and overall continuity as we have 13 freshmen who have played together for numerous years.”
Leonard says freshman forward/midfielders Brisa Aguilar, Layla Schroeder and Sasha Moran are Newport’s top newcomers, along with freshman midfielder/defenders Kianna Leonard and Kauri Mitchell.
Statewide, coaches gave a nod of respect to the 4A Oregon West, ranking Woodburn third and Philomath fifth in the OSAA preseason girls soccer coaches poll. But Leonard and his team are looking ahead only at the next match in the schedule
“We are young and a bit undersized, but as far as our overall season outlook, that’s yet to be determined,” Leonard said. “One game at a time.”
After Tuesday’s match at Seaside, the Cubs head Sept. 9 to face Tillamook before starting conference action Sept. 14 at Stayton.
Katie Quinn and Joshua Vredburg share head coaching duties for the Taft girls soccer program, and Quinn says the Tigers are primed to make a run toward making noise during the postseason.
“We think we will be competitive in our league, fighting for a state playoffs spot,” Quinn said. “We have a lot of experience returning with our seniors and a lot of drive with our underclassmen.”
Defense looks to be a strength at Taft, bolstered by senior goalkeeper Nicole Reyes, senior midfielder defender Sayge Ulrich, a 2020-21 All-LCSD selection, senior striker Ryan Sou and senior defender/midfielder Olivia Cooper.
A freshman and two sophomores highlight Taft’s group of promising up-and-comers. They include freshman striker Sienna Lillebo, sophomore midfielder Diana Lucas and sophomore midfielder/goalkeeper Aliviah Mode. Quin said the Tigers must compensate for the loss of Miranda Hankins, who is expected to miss the season due to an injury suffered while playing this summer.
“Our strengths are that we have a sizable senior crew with experience,” Quinn said. “We have players who have high goals for our team, like making it to the state playoffs, We’ve also seen a strong work ethic from our underclassmen.”
The Tigers’ first two days of scheduled interscholastic play — the LCSD jamboree last weekend at Newport and Tuesday’s non-league contest at Tillamook — were canceled. That means as of early this week, the Taft girls weren’t slated to see game action until they travel Sept. 7 to open 3A/2A/1A-SD 2 play at Gervais.
“We have many amazing girls on our team,” Quinn said, “but we’ll see how they confront obstacles this season.”