It’s a year of transition for Greater Spokane League girls soccer, defending champion Gonzaga Prep and especially for Bullpup seniors Darby Doyle and Mia Padon.
Doyle, a midfielder and the GSL’s Offensive MVP last year, will be counted on to lead the Bullpups in transition.
Padon has an even bigger challenge: a defender last year, she’s moved to forward – a decision coach Billy Barmes made partly out of necessity but also as a compliment to Padon, who’s definitely up for the opportunity.
“The challenge is that you have a different vision on the field, and you have to get into an attacking mindset,” said Padon, who attracting interest from several colleges. “It’s a different kind of leadership role.”
Meanwhile, Doyle will be expected to fill many roles as she and coach Billy Barmes work together for a third straight season. “She’s grown every year,” said Barmes, who led last year’s Bullpups to a perfect 9-0 record in the GSL, 17-5 overall and a spot in the State 4A semifinals.
With only six returning starters and 12 letter winners, Barmes needs leadership from his seniors.
“Darby knows the expectation that she is affecting every single game and she continues to rise to the challenge, and now comes the leadership piece,” Barmes said.
Doyle, whose game speaks volumes but whose voice is just above a whisper, said “I like that we have a lot of new faces and a lot of new energy.”
“I’m hoping that we can make it far in the state playoffs, play well together and I hope I can make the players around me better,” said Doyle, who’s verbally committed to play for Western Washington.
Other Bullpups are stepping up to fill spots left by all-league first-team performers Larkin Russell, Tayler Drynan and Melissa Symmes.
Several players are rotating up front, but senior Trudy Timperman was impressed in the preseason; she has four goals in recent wins over Post Falls, West Valley and Mt. Spokane.
The defense is anchored by senior Hannah Plank, an all-GSL honoree last year. Also in the mix are senior Aeva Schrambach, juniors Ollie Branson, Makena Dodson and Maddie Zorich and sophomores Olivia Lauffer and Kennedy Siebold.
Senior goalkeeper Zoe Boleneus, a second-team all-GSL pick last year, enters the season injury-free for the first time, said Barmes, who also can count on junior Samantha Bertagnoli.
Barmes concedes that the Bullpups “need to establish chemistry, the bottom line is that while G-Prep has some holes to fill, so do the other GSL contenders.
Padon likes what she sees. “Our chemistry is still there, but the new girls bring a new dynamic - that makes it fun and competitive, because everybody is fighting for a spot.”
In the same breath, Padon said the same thing about the GSL race, which opens Wednesday.
“I’m confident in our team’s ability, but it’s going to be a fight,” Padon said.
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