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Could this be the year for KSS girls soccer?
Ten years ago to the month, the Klahowya girls soccer team captured its first and only state championship.
In 2000, the Lady Eagles advanced to the semifinals only to lose to East Valley of Yakima in overtime. State-tournament appearances in 2001 and 2007 ended with first-round exits.
When KSS kicks off the district tournament tomorrow at Silverdale Stadium against either Steilacoom or North Mason, with a No. 1 seed to state and potential home-field advantage up for grabs, the quest begins for state title No. 2.
“We are confident,” said coach Troy Oelschlager. “We’re pretty optimistic, but we’ll see what happens.”
The Lady Eagles (11-1-3, who defeated Kingston 2-0 in a friendly match Tuesday, cruised through the regular season relatively unscathed, stumbling once in a 2-0 loss to Class 3A North Kitsap in mid-October.
The team scored three or more goals eight times during the regular season behind junior midfielder Jordan Dixon, who leads the team with 11 goals and two assists but has been inconsistent at times.
“When she plays with confidence, she’s very hard to contain,” Oelschlager said.
But KSS has a solid nucleus in players such as Katlyn Sargent, a dominant midfielder who Oelschlager said creates scoring opportunities for teammates and controls the middle-third of the field.
Sweeper Rocky Winkler has stepped up as well, playing a large role in KSS’ defensive success — the team has allowed just five goals all season. And Ruthie Hawley, a forward, has six goals and five assists, providing stability and knowledge up front.
“They’ve all been there (the playoffs) before,” Oelschlager said.
The team’s primary concern now is health. Oelschlager said many of the players have been sick in past few weeks, resulting in not-so-intense and partially attended practices.
But with 11 days off between the Oct. 27 regular-season finale and tomorrow’s district game, the Lady Eagles have had at least some time to recover.
“I can’t remember the last time when everybody was at practice at the same time,” Oelschlager said.
In addition to getting healthy, the Lady Eagles must find a way to slow down fast-playing opponents. North Kitsap was the quickest team KSS faced during the regular season, and the Lady Eagles struggled.
It will be up to players such as Winkler and Sargent to keep the pace at a reasonable level.
“Our biggest obstacle is the speed of play, the speed of the game,” Oelschlager said.
Results from yesterday’s Steilacoom-North Mason game, which determined KSS’ opponent, were unavailable at press time.