PORT ORCHARD — With a new coach and a number of young faces, the South Kitsap girls soccer program will get a fresh start this year, and should be an entertaining team to watch along the way.
Young, quick and skilled is how first-year coach K-Lee Haynes describes her new squad. Haynes, a center back for the Olympic Force, an amateur team in Bremerton, and a former standout at Snohomish High School, sees a team that should be able to score right off the bat and compete in the tough South Puget Sound League.
“I’m pretty excited for the offense I see out there,” said Haynes, also a Spanish teacher at Peninsula High School, during a recent practice.
“I think they’re going to be a quick team and I think we’re going to score a lot of goals.”
Much of that enthusiasm is centered around three freshmen — midfielders Lillian Lutovsky and Riley Rechlicz and forward Zamira Lightfoot, who bring additional speed and creativity to the team.
“They’re going to have to fight for time on the field,” Haynes said of her freshman contingent. “But I think they will get their chances to play.”
Although there are few returning starters — eight seniors were lost to graduation off a team that finished 5-6-5 last year — the Lady Wolves do have experienced players in their upper class.
The team will be anchored by senior midfielder Savannah Foster, a defensive ace who is also capable of jumping up into the attack. Seniors Sophia Weaver and Nicole Nystrom are defenders who have seen time on the field and are expected to lead on the back-end with senior keeper Olivia Prince.
“I would definitely say getting that good team chemistry is going to be key and being able to trust each other on the field,” Foster said.
“We’re all individually talented, we just need to learn to work together.”
And exactly how that chemistry develops will be interesting to watch over the course of the season. With only about 20 players rostered for this upcoming season, competition will certainly be fierce for a place on the varsity squad. Foster noted a large uptick in both her and her teammates’ work ethic in the pre-season.
“They all know they’re fighting for a spot out there,” Haynes said.
“They keep that in mind every practice and every training session. Not only on the field, but also on my bench. I told them that since we have limited numbers this year, I’m only taking 16 of them for each game, so that means two or three of them are going down to JV each game.”
Fans will soon get their first look at the starting 11 as the Lady Wolves open at home Sept. 5 against Graham-Kapowsin, a school they defeated twice in the regular season last year. With so many energetic and skilled, if not terribly experienced, players ready to take the field, the girls soccer team should be intriguing to watch this season.
“If they play their best game, we should hopefully get the result we’re looking for,” Haynes said.