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South Kitsap eyes state return without top player | Girls soccer preview
One ligament is causing a lot of consternation for South Kitsap’s girls soccer program.
Last year, standout midfielder Miranda Caballero was sidelined with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee.
The Wolves have Caballero back this season, but have lost senior forward Becca Schoales for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee. Schoales, who committed to the University of Washington, generally is regarded as the top Class of 2013 player in the state.
“I was excited to have both of them,” said South coach Julie Cain, adding that Schoales was injured during the final play during a national tournament in July. “We will miss Becca.”
The loss of Schoales hinders the Wolves’ hopes of capturing their first state championship, but Cain believes there is enough returning talent to reach state for a second consecutive year.
That won’t be easy. After all, Bellarmine Prep reached the Class 4A state championship game and Gig Harbor advanced to the semifinals. South, which lost 2-0 against Bellarmine in the quarterfinals, might need to be even better this year just to get to that point. That is because 4A Narrows only features seven teams, which means it only is guaranteed three state-playoff berths. The Wolves finished fourth last season.
“We have high expectations,” senior defender Delaney Digiovanni said. “There’s not going to be one week where we have it off.”
“I think it is the toughest league in the state,” she said.
Cain said she also thought Stadium and Central Kitsap experienced some bad luck and should improve this season. Both teams had a losing league record despite combining to outscore their opponents by 28 goals.
One advantage South might possess in the playoff race is experience. The Wolves lost two of their top players in Schoales and Bri Smallidge, who is Seattle University’s starting goalkeeper as a freshman.
“She was great,” Caballero said. “We’re going to miss her.”
But South long has featured strong play at that position — Smallidge’s predecessors Monique Morey and Holly Sieler both played in college — and Cain expects that trend to continue. She likes both sophomore Elisa Randle, who was Smallidge’s backup last year, and junior Haley Yarborough. Cain said the latter, who is 6 foot 1, had a shoulder injury that relegated her to junior varsity last year, but she now is healthy and will compete with Randle for the starting position.
Either goalie is expected to play behind a strong defense. The Wolves allowed a Narrows-best seven goals last year in league play. Jessica Johnson graduated, but seniors Shannon Beisley and Digiovanni return.
“They have been core back players for us,” Cain said.
South’s defense seems to fit the breakdown of the roster. Beisley and Digiovanni are among seven seniors on varsity, while Kylee Platt is part of a sophomore class that has Cain excited.
While Cain likes the distribution of talent throughout the roster, there might not be a position with more depth than the midfield. Caballero and classmate Rose Posadas, who was sidelined during the playoffs with a concussion, are back along with sophomores Hailey Parker, Rachel Prince and Hayley Romo.
“She’s a dynamic player,” said Cain, referring to Romo. “I’m excited about her.
Prince might even see time at forward as Cain tries to fill Schoales’ void.
“Rachel Prince has pace and is smart,” she said. “I feel like I could play her anywhere on the field.”
Depending on where Prince lines up, Emily Wilkins could move into the starting lineup at forward with senior Brita Oleson.
“Brita’s a great player,” Cain said. “She’s fit and fast. She’s a true forward who likes to score goals.”
That group likely will be joined by Adri Jackson in the starting lineup. She also saw varsity playing time last year.
“We have a very similar roster to last year,” Cain said.
The Wolves hope that composition will be enough to finally unseat Bellarmine as league champions. South has defeated the Lions at least once in each of the last four years.
“We definitely want revenge,” Digiovanni said.