Andres Monrroy has made a point of telling his Central Valley girls soccer team that there are no laurels upon which they can rest this season.
Yes, they are the defending state Class 4A champions.
“That all happened in 2013,” he tells them. “This is 2014.”
Monrroy gets a smile on his face and shakes his head.
“You know what?” he asks. “These girls understand that. They’ve worked hard, they’ve showed up for conditioning. They’ve come out fit and ready to work. And they’re better players. My returning players, every one of them, is already a better player this year.”
The challenge for Monrroy and the Bears isn’t about replacing the talent lost through graduation – the program has a deep reservoir of talent that shows no sign of running dry. It’s about replacing leadership and personalities.
It’s a testament to last year’s leaders that the coach is confident his team already is in good hands.
“Our seniors last year set a great example,” Monrroy said. “They did a great job of making sure this year’s leaders would step in and continue their legacy.”
Replacing the personalities lost will be more difficult.
For example, Savannah Hoekstra was an offensive force, to be sure, but the lanky forward also played with a sense of infectious joy and almost always wore an incandescent smile.
And goalkeeper Jessie Kunz-Pfeiffer was the consummate big-game performer capping her career by making crucial saves in both the state semifinal and final a year ago. She snuffed out a Mead penalty kick as the Bears advanced to the finals. Then, on the final play of her high school career, she dove left to block Issaquah’s final attempt in the shootout, clinching CV’s state title.
This year the starting keeper job goes to senior Chloe Sholtz, who has more than paid her dues.
“Chloe has been part of the program since she was a freshman, but always as a back-up to Jessie,” Monrroy said. “She’s done a great job filling in when Jessie was out. We have confidence in her.”
The Bears return a trio of first-team All-Greater Spokane League performers in defender McKenna Stocker, midfielder Megan Dimmler and sophomore forward Kelsey Turnbow, who split time between CV and the youth national team last year.
Midfielder Hailey Spooner was a second-team All-GSL selection.
The Titans return 10 players with starting experience from a team that battled through the extreme trauma of losing a starting player in a tragic auto accident to finish one game away from the reaching the state Class 3A playoffs.
Junior Morgan Crosby was a first-team All-GSL midfielder a year ago, and defender Sydney Weiler and midfielder Rylee Rassier both earned second-team honors.
U-Hi returns to Class 4A this season, making what many consider the toughest Class 4A league in the state just that much stronger.
Coach Shelli Totton-Peterson went into the off-season knowing she had 10 players with starting experience to go with both goalkeepers back off a team that won 17 of 20 games a year ago and reached the second round of the State Class 2A tournament – losing to West Valley-Yakima, 2-0.
And then two of those starters went down with season-ending injuries during the spring and summer – including Great Northern League defensive player of the year Davien Engeberg.
“They’re just gone – no chance of them even playing,” she said. “We just have to move on.”
The Eagles have a lot to move on with, including All-GNL first-team forward Jenna Sullens and second-team picks Morgan Williams (forward) and Abby Swanson (midfielder).
Even with the loss of two starters, the Eagles likely have the deepest returning talent of any team in the GNL, and have confidence to match.
“These girls want to go play CV!” Totton-Peterson said. “I told them that CV probably doesn’t have room for us on their schedule, but that’s where they are.
“We have some good teams on our nonleague schedule – Mt. Spokane and Gonzaga Prep. I like for us to play up whenever we can. It helps get us ready for league and it helps us get ready to play anyone.”
The Knights started slow a year ago with a young team, but caught fire late and just missed reaching the state tournament, finishing 10-4.
East Valley closed out October with five straight wins over West Valley, Pullman, Cheney, Colville and Deer Park.
East Valley must replace last year’s offensive MVP, Alex Rankin, but return All-GNL first-teamers Chelsea Love (forward) and Taylor Morscheck (defender), and second-team midfielder Skylar Bastin and Kari Bromley, the league’s second-team keeper as a freshman.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.