PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles returns a solid, if not sophomore, starting core from last season’s Class 2A Olympic League girls soccer runner-up squad.
The Roughriders are young, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the team will be outmatched, according to second-year head coach Daniel Horton.
“A good chunk of our team is back and our returners are really a great core to have,” Horton said.
“Even though we are young, we have soccer players. Some schools have basketball players and softball players that play a little soccer. We have a ton of soccer players who play other sports.”
Port Angeles players hit the weight room to try and negate the age difference between them and older opponents.
“You have some years where you are filled with underclassmen and there’s a big difference in 14-and 15-year olds vs 17 and 18 in terms of strength and build,” Horton said. “This was a way to try our best to fill those gaps. Hopefully it’s something they continue to buy in to.”
Senior Paige Mason notched five goals while playing all over the field for Port Angeles last fall.
“Paige Mason, she’s strong and a big target for us,” Horton said. “We’re hoping she’s able to set the tone for us. I’d like to keep her put in the midfield so she can anchor us kinda like Anna Petty did last year. We can move Paige up offensively and drop her back defensively.”
Senior Izzy Felton is a four-year varsity player who had five goals last season in midfield and forward.
Senior Maeve Croteau returns along the back line defensively.
Sophomore Kedryn DeScala is the team’s leading returning scorer with six goals and four assists. She heads up a large group of sophomore starters.
Teanna Clark is the third Clark sister to play big minutes for the Riders varsity in recent seasons. She’ll slot in at midfield after picking up two goals last fall.
Pyper Alton put in three goals last season while seeing more and more playing time at forward.
Junior Ava-Anne Sheahan was a starter as a defender before an injury sidelined her for much of the season. Sheahan slots in defensively along with sophomores Becca Manson and Cayleigh Alward, each of whom started last season.
Kennedy Rognlien, a starting center back defensively as a freshman, will handle goalkeeping duties.
“Kennedy has played the position in the past and impressed us so much in tryouts as a freshman that we had to get her into the lineup,” Horton said.
“She’s not 100-percent fearless yet, but she’s getting there. She’s diving into corners, challenging crosses and every day she’s getting better. “There will be some growing pains, I’m betting she’ll give up some goals that she thinks she could have saved, but that’s because she’s her own toughest critic. By midseason and toward the end I think she can be big for us in goal.”
“Our core 10 all started or played a ton of minutes last year, so it’s a matter of trying to fill in the pieces around that group,” Horton said.
“We have been trying to figure out the rest of the lineup — and we have a lot of choices. They are making it hard on us to solidfy the roster.”
Horton said he thinks his team has enough returning experience to compete for a playoff spot against teams like North Kitsap.
“I think its going to be pretty similar to last year,” Horton said. “NK and Bainbridge that’s our biggest focus, if we can find a way to grab a couple of those games which we didn’t last year, we should be in the thick of it.”
Port Angeles Roughriders
• Head coach: Daniel Horton (2nd season, (10-5-0, 11-6-0)
• Last Season: (10-5-0,) 11-6-0, second in Olympic 2A. Went 1-2 in district playoffs.
• Returners: Paige Mason (M/D, Sr.); Izzy Felton (M/F, Sr.); Maeve Croteau (D, Sr.); Kedryn DeScala (F/M, Soph.); Becca Manson (D/M, Soph.); Kennedy Rognlien (GK, Soph.); Teanna Clark (M, Soph.); Pyper Alton (F, Soph.). Ava-Anne Sheahan (D, Jr.); Cayliegh Alward (D, Soph.).
• Newcomers: Allison Fricker (MF, Jr.): “She swung up in the midfield a couple of times last season and she’s been practicing with the varsity group,” Horton said. “She’s gotten better and she’s calm on the ball.”
• Outlook: “Our goal to make the playoffs and there will be times when we look really good, and times when our youth shows, but I think we can be right there in the playoff hunt,” Horton said.