'We pretty much have a lot of new girls'
When Kyle Collins became the Washington girls’ soccer coach four years ago, he had a large group of freshmen on his 2009 squad. Last spring, that group of 10 players graduated, leaving the Demons with a young squad once again.
“Losing 10 seniors, that’s a lot of girls,” said Collins, whose team finished 6-9 last season. “We pretty much have a lot of new girls.”
Washington lost players who scored 27 of its 30 goals last season, including forwards Mackenzie Adrian and Haley Ross, who combined to score 23 goals last spring. This season, the Demons will have to find players who can score goals.
“[Replacing them is] a big feat, but it’s not always about the scoring of the goals,” Collins said. “If you keep the ball out of your net, you only need one. Yeah, they were powerful forwards and quick and could score a lot of goals, but we shouldn’t have any trouble with that this year.”
The Demons have a lot of strong defensive players returning, led by goalie Stephanie Evans, who made 175 saves while allowing just 44 goals last season as a freshman.
“She’s an excellent goalie,” Collins said of Evans. “Somehow she just knew how to play it. I didn’t have to really teach her anything.”
Washington’s top returning scorer is Jannel Ramirez, who scored two goals last season as a sophomore midfielder. Collins is planning to move Ramirez to forward this season.
“She’s got a really powerful leg, so hopefully we can get her up front and get her to score,” he said.
Kayla Schindler scored a goal last season as a freshman, and sophomore Lauren Swan and junior Chayse Jaspering were solid defenders. Those three all should be threats to score this season, Collins said.
“They’re bringing back some experience,” Collins said. “Last year they kind of played midfield or defender, but they’re starting to push forward. Their skills are getting better.”
Even though the Demons lost a lot of senior leadership from last year’s team, they still have some leaders on the squad. Seven players who started a game last season return.
“Lauren Swan has stepped up and kept everyone focused,” Collins said. “She talks a lot and helps everybody out. Chayse Jaspering is pretty aggressive whens she’s out on the field, and she lets everybody know that and tries to push them. She shows them how to play and how to work, and she’s been helping out girls.”
Collins said that there are a number of talented young players on the squad — freshmen Karla Rangel, Cheyanne Schalk and Stacy Ramirez, to name a few — but that they are still finding their footing.
“In the first game I think they were nervous,” Collins said. “After they got through the first half of the game, they kind of eased up and they were playing a lot better.”
Because of inclement weather, the Demons only had a handful of practices outdoors before their first match at Columbus on April 2. Washington won 3-2 after the contest went to penalty kicks.
Washington scored first when Swan scored on an assist from Schalk midway through the first half, but the Wildcats tied the score just before halftime. A corner kick bounced around and hit a Washington player on the hand, and the Wildcats converted the penalty kick. After a scoreless second half and two scoreless overtime periods, the match went to penalty kicks. Swan and Schindler both converted their kicks, and Evans made three saves as the Demons won 3-2.
“We just kept pushing and pushing and pushing,” Collins said. “It’s tough to go out there, legs tired, and shoot penalty kicks. But nobody quit trying. I think they were happy to get out of there with a win.”
Since then, the Demons have lost their last three matches. Washington lost to Clear Creek-Amana 6-0 at home on April 8, and the Demons lost at Mid-Prairie 10-0 on April 9. Washington lost to Fairfield 3-1 at home on Thursday to fall to 1-3 on the season. Still, Washington’s young players are learning, and Collins expects to have a successful season.
“They’re young, but they’re willing to learn,” Collins said. “They’re picking it up fast.”