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Sports >  High school sports

Girls soccer preview: Still-strong Gonzaga Prep leads pack in on-the-rise Greater Spokane League

UPDATED: Wed., March 3, 2021

Gonzaga Prep’s Erin Ewers moves the ball past Ferris’ Laney Erickson to score a goal during a Greater Spokane League girls soccer match Wednesday at Ferris.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga Prep’s Erin Ewers moves the ball past Ferris’ Laney Erickson to score a goal during a Greater Spokane League girls soccer match Wednesday at Ferris. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

The Greater Spokane League and Great Northern League had three teams qualify for state girls soccer tournaments last season, led by Gonzaga Prep. The Bullpups, who finished third in 4A and lost two all-state players, remained the unanimous pick as the top team in the league by coaches who replied to a questionnaire.

Several programs are on the rise with a solid corps of returning players across the league and some exciting youngsters .

Although there will be no district or state playoffs to qualify for this season, the league plans a two-round culminating event at the end of the season.

4A/3A

Central Valley (12-5, 6-2-0-1): Coach Rob Rowe returns for his 16th overall season and third at CV. Seven starters and 11 letter-winners return, including all-league junior forward Zoe Crockett and second-team senior defender Maci Young. “We graduated some key players, but we are returning a very good group of seniors and a large group of experienced juniors and sophomores, which will help us continue to build for next year as well,” Rowe said.

Cheney (15-4, 11-1): The 2019 GNL and District 7 champs lost a slew of all-league players to graduation – and nine in total, so just six letter-winners return for eighth-year coach Nels Radtke. One of those back, though, is GNL Offensive MVP Makenna Benson, a senior forward. “We’ll need players to step up to help Makenna,” Radtke said. “We are also replacing our whole back line, so it will be important for us to gel quickly.”

Gonzaga Prep (20-3, 8-0-1-0): The Bullpups were league and district champs last season and finished third at state, losing to eventual champ Puyallup in a shootout in a semifinal. Coach Billy Barmes has 14 letter-winners and seven starters back this season, including second-team all-state selection senior forward Campbell Seibold and senior defender Alaina O’Connell. “An experienced senior class and strong group of new players make this a very complete and competitive team,” Barmes said.

Ferris (8-8, 5-3-0-1): Fifth-year coach Alex Bray has 13 letter-winners and seven starters back, including sophomore forward Cadence Peroff, who was an all-league pick as a frosh. “We have a good core of experienced players,” Bray said. “Short time before league play and no preseason will make this tough. Playing together and connected as quickly as we can will make us competitive.”

Lewis and Clark (6-8-2, 2-3-3-1): With 11 letter-winners and seven starters back, the Tigers should be competitive in every match for fifth-year coach Mica Lamb. “We’ve got a solid core of returning players and some exciting newcomers looking to make themselves known,” Lamb said. “With several key players coming off injuries, time will tell how good we can be.” Seniors defender Elena Rawlins and midfielder Ella Magnuson are leaders, and sophomore midfielder Caeli Dornay transferred in from Mercer Island, Washington.

Mead (16-5, 6-1-1-1): Coach Kevin Houston is back for his eighth year with seven letter-winners and five starters back, including second-team all-league senior defender Erika Frahm and senior goalkeeper Mercedes Cullen. “To be competitive, we will need our returning role players to step in and be impact players from the start of this COVID season since there are no nonleague games to help prepare them for the GSL games,” Houston said.

Mt. Spokane (9-6-3, 5-2-1-1): Second-year coach Shannon Stiles won coach of the year honors last season and has seven letter-winners and six starters back from that team. The Wildcats have good experience across the field, with first-team all-league senior defender Gracyn Ulias, second-team senior forward Elie Johnson and honorable mention junior midfielders Kylie Stiles and Miya Gibbs. “Our seven returners provide a solid foundation,” Stiles said. “This is a coachable group, and we are just grateful for the opportunity to play.”

University (6-8, 3-4-0-2): All-state midfielder Gracen Crosby graduated, but nine letter-winners and five starters return for third-year coach Kara Sharpe. All-league honorable mention and four-year starting defender Ryan Griep is the unquestioned leader. “We need to find players that are physical and can compete in the midfield, as well as look to (senior forward) Kiah Thorson and other players to score goals up top in order to be competitive and replace Crosby,” Sharpe said. Three-year starting keeper Josie Krum is a stabilizing force.

2A

Clarkston (7-9-1, 4-8): Coach Ryan Newhouse, entering his eighth season at the helm, has eight starters and 11 letter-winners back, including first-team All-GNL center midfielder senior Jenna Allen, along with second-team picks senior striker Jolee Nicholas and junior midfielder Luella Skinner. “We have versatility, experience and depth,” Newhouse said. “Acclimating our newcomers may be a challenge.”

East Valley (7-10, 5-7): Seven starters and 10 letter-winners return for fourth-year coach Todd Slatter. Junior midfielder Janis Oliver is a key returner for the Knights.

North Central (4-11, 1-7-1-0): Eighth-year coach Matt Leonard has 13 letter-winners and nine starters back, with senior midfielder Alexa Deatherage and senior defenders Cassidy Brown and Kendall Delp leading as captains. “We are hungry to score and will continue to make good progress this year in finding creative combinations to try and break teams down,” Leonard said. “We are so excited to get a chance to play this spring.”

Othello (11-9, 5-3-1-0): Coach Juan Garcia enters his second year with the Huskies with eight returning starters. Junior forward Hailee Guzman and junior midfielder Janelly Verdusco were second-team All-CWAC picks last season. “Many of the Spokane schools have athletes that play in club soccer, which is not readily available in the Othello area,” Garcia said. “We will continue to work on building the program.”

Pullman (0-16, 0-12): It’s a rebuilding year for the Greyhounds, but coach Doug Winchell – in his 24th season – has hope. “We’re pretty young and inexperienced at the high school level,” he said. “The talent level is improving over the last several years.” Senior forward Hailey Talbot will lead an up-and-coming underclass group, which includes promising sophomores Hannah James, Vanna Chun and Alene Itani.

Rogers (3-12, 0-9-0-0): Second-year coach Mike Duke has 12 letter-winners and eight starters back, including senior midfielder Hailey Hooks and junior midfielder Marissa Bell – the team captains. Senior forward Macy Crawford and defender Lizzy Case will provide leadership. Senior defender Amaree Moore transferred in from Central Valley.

Shadle Park (6-11, 2-7-0-0): Second-year coach Rik Robles returns with 17 letter-winners and 10 starters back. Sophomore forward Kyleigh Archer already has a hat trick to her credit this season, while senior midfielder Olivia Wicks was a second-team all-league pick last season. “COVID has really hurt the momentum that we were starting to build as a program last season,” Robles said. “The loss of in-person connections over the past year is noticeable for sure.”

West Valley (14-5-1, 10-2): Eight starters and 10 letter-winners return for second-year coach CC Collins. Senior keeper Madison Maloney – headed to Western Washington – was a first-team all-league pick, as was center back Abbie Sicilia, just a sophomore. “We have a solid upperclassmen group with great skills and leadership,” Collins said. “We also have a few players moved up from JV who will contribute to this well-rounded team.”

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