The Eagles are ready to go back to the State Championship for the third year in a row — this time winning it
After Issaquah’s second year in a row losing the state championship, Head Girls Soccer Coach Tom Bunnell said it’s time to put the pressure on.
“Last year we had it in the bag, and we lost it,” said Bunnell. “The motivation of last year’s final will be enough.”
The team lost last year’s 4A Championship to Central Valley 3-2 in a penalty kick shootout. The year before, they lost to Skyline 1-0.
Putting on pressure includes twice weekly captain’s practices and two preseason games against nationally ranked teams. Issaquah is playing Tualatin High School in Tualatin, Ore. on September 5 and Maria Corillo High School in Santa Rosa, Calif. on September 20. According to TopDrawerSoccer.com, Maria Corillo is rated first in the nation. Issaquah is ranked eighth.
Senior Captain Annie Hoffman said the team has been “working really hard during their off season” doing weight training and crossfit, in addition to technical work, such as passing and full team scrimmages. At the team’s last preseason practice, about 30 girls showed up, a lot of whom are incoming freshmen.
“Everybody here loves to play. Everybody loves high school season, so we definitely started off early,” said Hoffman, a Boise State commit.
Midfielder Hoffman said she is enjoying a leadership role on the team and setting the tone for team culture, but it has been hard for some of the new, younger players.
“A tough thing is getting to show them that these [trainings] are really focused, they’re not just going to mess around and laugh the whole time, be lackadaisical,” Hoffman said. “It’s definitely a hard training that we’re trying to establish here so it can pave the way for the rest of the season.”
Senior Forward Devan Talley is another player to watch out for this season. The Eastern commit led Issaquah last year with 15 goals, 3 assists, and 33 points. Talley had two serious knee injuries in 2011 and 2012, but came back with a competitive drive for her junior year, Bunnell said.
In scrimmage, Talley dribbled the ball down the field, closing in on the opposing team’s goal. Instead, of going for a shot, Talley sharply crossed the ball to her teammate who sank the ball into the net — a move her coaches say she wouldn’t have done two years ago. Talley would have done whatever she needed to make the shot herself.
“She has no fear of going into the pile and blowing people up,” Bunnell said. “But she’s a much smarter player now.”
Issaquah lost dynamic seniors, including Forward Rachel Wheeler, who is playing at the University of Washington. But Bunnell and Hoffman are optimistic about pool of incoming freshman, which is the largest Issaquah has seen.
“If one or two [freshmen] can start, that gives nice longevity with quality players, and it helps us going forward,” Bunnell said.
One gaping hole that needs to be filled in the lineup: Goalkeeper.
“We’re struggling on the goalkeeper thing,” Bunnell said. “We don’t have the depth we have had in the past.”
Bunnell said the team would like to have six solid keepers, but for now is relying on two, Junior Anna Miller and Sophomore Maddie Flores, who played on the JV team last year. Miller had eight shutouts last season.
Other Players to watch out for:
Lyrik Fryer – Senior, defender. Last year had 4 goals and 11 assists. Was named KingCo 4A All-League MVP along with Talley.
Kaylene Pang – Sophomore, midfielder. Made an All-League team her freshman year.