By BEN MCCARTY
News staff writer
November 25, 2006
It was a tale of two seasons for the HRVHS girls soccer team this year. The team went 6-0 in non-conference play before beginning play in the Mount Hood Conference. All seemed to be going well, they had defeated Madras, The Dalles-Wahtonka, and Hermiston, three former Intermountain conference rivals and were streaking into their new conference. That’s when things got rough. Centennial welcomed the Eagles to the conference by beating them 4-2, and the Eagles would lose their last four games of the season to finish 2-6 in conference play and one spot outside of playoff qualification.
Coach Joe Kelly took the season as a lesson in rising to the competition after the late season slide and a pair of 1-0 losses to Sandy and Barlow kept the team out of the playoffs. “It was clear when we got into league play that we are a 5A school and had a hard time competing,” Kelly said. “It came down to teams being so equal that the little things made a big difference.” While the team got a rude welcome to its new league, that did not stop several of the players from earning all-league honors. Dani Lichty was named to the all-league second team while Jessica Ostler and Meredith Danko earned honorable mentions. The team also honored its most outstanding players at the end of the season with Justine Bryant and Lichty taking home outstanding offensive player honors. Kari Hidle received the team’s outstanding defensive player award and Kayla VanSwaay was recognized as the team’s most improved player. Jessica Ostler received the team’s 110 percent award. Kelly said that the team will miss seniors Bryant, Jill Chance, Ostler, Danko, Sara DeSitter and Kayla Lloyd, and now have to find a way to rise above other teams in the conference that will be returning groups of young, but experienced, players next season.
“We have to commit ourselves to being better soccer players,” Kelly said. “We really are competing at the highest level and we have to have everything come together for us.”
Kelly said that with many of the other teams in the conference being built on a talented core of younger players the team is counting on their own younger players to step in the next several seasons.
The JV team had a successful season, and several players from that team will likely be stepping into varsity roles next season.
“We have a lot of possibilities for the future,” Kelly said.
The team also has a talented group of current juniors who will be looked to lead the team next year, led by Lichty, Van Swaay, Hidle and goalkeeper Hailey Thomas.
Kelly hopes that this season’s tough losses will inspire his team to play even harder now that they have a feel for the competition.
“Our returning players are excited about coming back next fall to get victories in those close games,” he said.