The Sumner Spartans are the defending Class 2A state girls soccer champions, and the Puyallup Vikings reached the 4A state quarterfinals a year ago. The Rogers Rams and Emerald Ridge Jaguars are perennial contenders to reach the postseason.
Will the Spartans repeat? Can Puyallup break through to the final four? The following is a look at how each east Pierce County teams will fare on the pitch this fall:
Head coach: Robi Turley, ninth year
Last year: 21-0, won the Class 2A state championship
Key players: Brooke Lancaster, MF; Dacia Alexander, MF; Jamie Lange, GK; Nichole Delaney, D; Abby Smith, GK; Alyssa Murray, MF.
Sumner enjoyed the best season in school history last year. The Spartans went undefeated, scored 136 goals and surrendered just two during its state-championship run. The Spartans will return a strong team with a multitude of returning players at various positions.
“We are a very well-rounded team this year, from goalie to forward,” Sumner head coach Robi Turley said. “Our fitness level, tradition and mentality are our strengths.”
Turley said the leaders will be midfielder Brooke Lancaster and defender Nichole Delaney.
“We have yet to set our team goals this year, but we do want to keep the state-champion trophy at our school,” Turley said.PUYALLUP VIKINGS
Head coach: Matt White, fifth year
Last year: 15-3-2, lost to Skyline in the Class 4A state quarterfinals
Key players: Sierra Carrington, MF; Jessica Udovich, MF; Hailey Smoot, MF/F; Liz Griffith, MF/F; Hannah Ornes, F; Jordyn Bartelson, MF; Saige Lyons, F; Riley Kudabek, D; Bailey Plumb, D.
The majority of the Vikings team that advanced to the state quarterfinals last year remains intact. Puyallup will returns three starters on defense that allowed the fewest goals in the South Puget Sound League South Division last fall. Offensively, goal-scorers Hailey Smoot, Liz Griffith, Sierra Carrington and Jessica Udovich are back.
Puyallup head coach Matt White knows this team has the ability to have a special season.
“We have an outstanding core group of returning players,” he said. “They have an amazing dedication to putting the team first, and they seem not just willing but totally dedicated to serving each other. Our overall goal is to daily put the team first and push ourselves to constantly improve.”
The team captains are be Smoot, Udovich and Carrington.
“The players chose three outstanding young women to lead them,” White said. “Their tactical understanding and commitment to what we are doing is impressive.”ROGERS RAMS
Head coach: Moe Orcutt, eighth year
Last year: 9-5-2, lost in district playoffs
Key players: Ana Samson, D; Payton O’Neil, MF; Kelsy Neeley, MF; Maloree Miller, F; Morgan Roan, MF; Taylor Miller, MF.
Moe Orcutt, the Rams’ longtime head coach, believes defense wins games more often than not.
“Rams soccer always starts in the back four defenders, and we feel good about our solid group,” Orcutt said.
Rogers is anchored by goalie Carly Wilson and all-league defender Ana Samson. The Rams also have a team camaraderie that Orcutt believes will translate into victories.
“We don’t really care who gets the credit as long as we get the win,” he said. “We don’t have a superhero on this team, but we have enough talented players to be competitive with any team we face.”EMERALD RIDGE JAGUARS
Head coach: Dan Stueckle, 14th year
Last year: 9-5-4, lost in district playoffs
Key players: Lexi Turner, F, Kayle Edgecomb FB Jordanne Laky, D Ellie Haver, D; Hope Jones, G.
Dan Stueckle, the only girls soccer head coach the Jaguars have ever had, said Emerald Ridge returns eight players from last year.
“Right now, our team is playing the kind of soccer I want them to be playing,” he said. “It has been a lot of fun to watch. I think we’re going to be better than we were last year.”
Stueckle said the SPSL South will be wide open this season.
“It will be interesting to see how the other teams stack up and will be interesting to see what happens,” he said.