For the past three years, the Puyallup High School girls soccer team has reached the Class 4A state tournament. The Vikings made it as far as the quarterfinals last year before they were eliminated by the eventual state-champion Skyline Spartans. The most memorable game was the Vikings’ clutch 1-0 triumph against the Bellarmine Lions in a winner-to-state, loser-out playoff game at Art Crate Field in Spanaway. Vikings midfielder Sierra Carrington scored the game-winner in overtime to give her team a dramatic win with everything on the line.
Despite losing top players like Ashley Homer and Justine Ibarra to graduation, the Vikings are the favorites to win the South Puget Sound League South Division and advance to the state playoffs for the fourth year in a row. Carrington, a midfielder, Hailey Smoot, a forward and midfielder, and Jessica Udovich, another midfielder, are the team captains this season, and other key returning players include forwards Liz Griffith and Hannah Ornes. Incoming sophomore forwards Jordyn Bartelson, who won a state title at the Mat Classic wrestling tournament last February, and Saige Lyons, who competed in the USA Track and Field Junior Olympics meet, bring a youthful exuberance and energy to an already stacked team with top-flight performers.
The talent level is staggering, but most importantly, the person in control of molding the players is head coach Matt White. White’s track record of success directly correlates with his coaching style. Former Puyallup boys soccer player Isak Visser once referred to White as a “soccer junkie.” I’ve watched White-coached teams — both boys and girls — since 2008. Visser couldn’t be more spot-on.
The cerebral approach White endorses and creates within his teams simply pays dividends. The Vikings are never the most physical team, but they are usually the smartest team on the field, no matter what. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Vikings hoisted a state-championship trophy this November.
Sports Editor Shaun Scott can be reached at 253-552-7002 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_shaun.