There’s no other way to look at it: The Greater Spokane League is loaded for Bear.
The Central Valley girls soccer team returns nine starters, including last year’s offense and defensive most valuable players, plus the Coach of the Year in Andres Monrroy.
“It is a lot of pressure,” said CV forward Paige Gallaway, the league’s reigning offensive MVP. “But we were pretty good last year.”
But that was last year. Being favored “may be good for the team,” said defensive MVP Laci Rennaker, “but I’m not going in with that attitude, that I’m the MVP.”
The Bears’ biggest strength, according to Rennaker, is “that we have a lot of connection.” As in passing, a strength of Monrroy-coached teams – boys and girls – at CV. “We pass the ball very well,” Rennaker said.
For Gallaway, the end recipient of many of those passes, the goal is simple: a deeper run at the state tournament, where the Bears fell to Tahoma 2-1 in the second round.
“We’re hoping for the final four,” Gallaway said.
The Bears also return all-GSL first-teamers Allison Jordan on defense and Holly Miller at midfield. Jessie Kunz-Pfeiffer, a second-team selection last year as a sophomore, is back in goal; classmate Savannah Hoesktra returns at forward.
At Mead, Kevin Houston takes over the girls program on the heels of winning the GSL regular-season boys title last spring. The Panthers girls reached the state playoffs last year and have an exceptional group of juniors: defender Martha Heaps and forward Kara Marbury were first-team all-GSL, and midfielder Kylie Drynan was on the second team.
Lewis and Clark expects to contend for the title under second-year head coach Katie Carpenter, whose first squad finished third in the GSL. The Tigers return junior defender Dani Greenwood, who was a second-team all-leaguer last year. “It’s going to be a close race this year in the GSL,” Carpenter said.
Gonzaga Prep’s Christian Birrer, who returns for his 22nd year as head coach, said he has “lots of newcomers who will need time to integrate into the team.” The Bullpups will be led by junior midfielder Colleen Lindsay, a first-team all-GSL selection last year.
The Mt. Spokane Wildcats are looking for a third straight appearance in the 3A playoffs, and appear to have a good shot with 16 players back from a squad that reached the quarterfinals last year. “We expect to do well in the GSL as well as make the state playoffs again,” said coach Ryan Campanella, who is 72-35 overall at Mt. Spokane. “We’ve set high expectations for ourselves and are working hard to try to meet them.” The Wildcats will rely on two returning all-GSL second-team picks, senior defender Kelsey Frank and senior midfielder Alyssa Lloyd.
University reached the second round of regionals last year under head coach Megan Poulson, who returns six starters and eight letter winners.
Shadle Park returns six starters, but coach Donavon Hodgson says the Highlanders “will play the underdog role all season and will work hard.”
“We will find a way,” said East Valley coach Gabe Escobar, whose clubs usually do: In five years under Escobar, the Knights have reached state three times, including two semifinal appearances. Last year, EV finished 16-7 and placed fourth in the State 2A playoffs. The Knights return seven starters, including GNL Defensive MVP Kendra Morscheck, who was also an all-state performer; and forward Brittany Dugger, a first-team all-GNL selection last year. Both are seniors.
Pullman lost several all-league performers, but returns first-team goalkeeper Dakota Wickard and defender Dianna DeWald.
West Valley coach Shelli Totton-Peterson returns for her 15th season and also returns the most experienced team in the GNL with 10 starters back from a team that went 14-6 last year. “We should compete very well,” said Totton-Peterson, who welcomes back all-GNL second-team forward Courtney Hossfeld.
Cheney hopes for an easy rebuilding process; the Blackhawks were 9-3 last year, but graduated five all-GNL performers and welcome a new coach in Nels Radtke.
Clarkston returns 11 letter-winners for new coach Ryan Newhouse, who hopes for a “more balanced attack with an ability to finish.”
|GSL predicted finish||7. University|
|1. Central Valley||4. Gonzaga Prep||8. Shadle Park|
|2. Mead||5. Mt. Spokane||9. North Central|
|3. Lewis and Clark||6. Ferris||10. Rogers|
|GNL predicted finish||5. Clarkston|
|1. East Valley||3. West Valley||6. Deer Park|
|2. Pullman||4. Cheney||7. Colville|