Girls soccer ready to kick off

Eric Bergeson is no stranger to South Kitsap High School, but the boys’ soccer coach is making his debut as the new girls’ soccer coach this year.

Having never coached a girls team before, Bergeson said he was overwhelmed during the first day trying to learn everybody’s name.

The transition was made smooth by the players, who have made their new coach feel welcome since day one.

“I’m extremely grateful to this group of young ladies that has embraced my work ethic,” Bergeson said.

Bergeson takes over for Gary Trautman, who retired after 18 years at the helm.

He also inherits a team that advanced to the 4A state quarterfinals.

Though the team is without Narrows League MVP Sarah Groves and first-team goalkeeper Megan Morey, Bergeson said this year’s team could go just as far or farther if they believe in themselves and each other.

Bergeson’s biggest goal is to use his players in different positions.

“They’re very versatile,” Bergeson said. “I’m in the process of training each one of them to to play different positions. They’ve had to wipe the slate clean with the attitude, ‘I play this position only.’ ”

The talent is already there, but it’s the mental aspect of the game that will make or break the team, Bergeson said.

“The two boys teams I coached to state may not have been the most talented groups I’ve had, but they played together and liked each other,” Bergeson said. “It comes down to a whole bunch of personalities to believe in something better than themselves. We must continue to communicate. Whether it’s about playing time, family problems, or inner-squad squabbles, everyone has to be up front and talk about it.”

At first glance, SK looks like a team at the rebuilding stage because it has only three seniors.

But the bulk of last year’s starters were freshmen and sophomores with a splash of juniors.

Bergeson said the leading candidates to start at forward are junior Brittany Zurn and sophomores Nicole Bussman and Heather Young.

Soph-omores Stephanie Milne and Stephanie Mott will also be expected to contribute up front or in the midfield.

Sophomore Lauren Kruzner and junior Lauren Gehring will hold down the outside midfielder spots.

Gehring, a starting defender the last two years, will be better utilized in the midfield, Bergeson said.

“Lauren (Gehring) is really a natural outside midfielder,” he said. “She has both the physical presence and toughness. She doesn’t quit.”

Kruzner gained some valuable experience last year at the varsity level.

Naturally left-footed, Kruzner will dictate the left side of the field.

Inside midfielders Stephanie Solarek and Sarah Burt will be the quarterbacks on the field.

The senior duo brings the most varsity experience to the field, with each adding a different element to the team.

“Stephanie is outstanding with the ball and makes things happen,” Bergeson said. “Sarah is really good with distribution. We just need to work on her fitness a bit.”

There’s no question who will be the starting defenders.

While experience returns to the defense, the players are still young, with just one senior.

Emilee Ashby is the lone senior and she brings three years of varsity experience.

Junior Karla Myles is back for her third year and junior Alex Michael is back in action after taking last year off.

The defense will be anchored by sophomore sweeper Randee Robinson, who Bergeson said is “playing beyond her years.”

SK may have lost Morey in the goal box, but the Wolves lucked out with the arrival of Bellevue-transfer Ricci Kranjcevich.

The junior has all elements Bergeson said he looks for in a goalkeeper.

“She is absolutely fearless,” he said. “She had a bloody finger at practice and started laughing about it. She will keep a lot of balls out of the net.”

Junior Emily Shapely is the backup goalkeeper and she will be used in the midfield as well.

“We’re ahead of where I thought we’d be,” he said. “but we still have a long way to go.”

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