KINGSTON — The fountain of youth is pumping away as approximately one-third of the 32 players at Kingston High School girls soccer practice are freshman. Even so, the youthfulness of the squad doesn’t worry KHS girls soccer coach Craig Smith.
Smith, who has been involved with soccer in the North Kitsap area since the early 1980s, is optimistic about his team’s chances for success in the 2A/3A Olympic League.
“I am happy with the team we have got. We have enthusiasm,” Smith said. “We will establish a program that will represent the community well. We should be able to compete for a spot in the postseason in the Olympic League. The top two teams out of five go to the playoffs.”
Defense will be key to the Buccaneers’ success, he said.
“Defense is about decision making and is a big part of the mental side of the game,” he said. “As a coach, I emphasize the mental part of the game to players. They always need to know what they’re going to do with the ball before they get it.”
Junior mid-fielder Meghan Antoni knows what to do with the ball when she hits the field. She couldn’t wait to get on Kingston High School’s synthetic turf for the third practice of the year. The first two practices were held at Kingston Middle School.
“I am really excited about getting on this brand new field for the first time,” she said before practice Wednesday morning. “It’s a brand new season with a brand new team. I am excited and looking forward to it.”
Antoni said she believes the Buccaneers have the foundation to build a winning team at KHS.
“I think we have the talent here to build the program up pretty fast,” she said. “We have a young team with girls who have a lot of heart. We’re going to be pretty good.”
Senior Chelsea Craze said the first few practices have been a feeling out process.
“Right now everything is new and we’re getting used to everything,” she said. “We’re prepared for this season and it’s going to pay off in the end. It’s going to be pretty fun.”
Craze said the entire team is giving it their maximum effort at practice each day.
“We’re going to try as hard as we can every day,” she said. “We’re going to be part of a team that shines together and looks out for each other.”
Senior Katie Bullock said the Bucs already possess the right approach for success.
“The whole team’s attitude has been great. We are all on a new adventure together. I am impressed with that,” she said. “Everyone helps each other out. The older kids help get the freshman mentally prepared for practice. That will be the same thing we do when games start.”
Smith is glad Bullock and Craze decided to play soccer this year. Neither has played high school soccer, but has competed in recreational soccer for the better part of 10 years.
“They have great attitudes and are hardworking,” he said of Bullock and Craze. “With the opening of the Kingston High School, it gives them a good opportunity to play soccer. They’re taking advantage of that and are really good athletes.”
Smith said he expects Antoni to one of the leaders of the Bucs this season.
“Meghan lettered as a freshman at North. She is one of our hardest workers,” he said. “Being a first year program, we will be counting on her to give a lot to her teammates and be a leader on the field.”
Antoni’s versatility may be her greatest asset, Smith explained.
“She can play any of the positions,” Smith said. “We will probably put her in the midfield or at striker.”