Tualatin soccer team seeks second state crown
Timberwolves ready to make a run at another title
TUALATIN - Last year, Tualatin's wait for its first-ever girls soccer state championship finally ended.
Now, the Timberwolves don't want to wait nearly as long for title No. 2. In fact, they want it this year. And they're not keeping any secrets about that goal.
'We're going to try and do it again,' Tualatin senior goalkeeper Lindsay Parlee said before the Wolves' practice on Monday. 'Everyone's working hard and we really want to win another title.'
With a strong group of returning players, including nine starters, from last year's team that put together an overall record of 16-0-3 on its way to claiming the Class 4A state crown, Tualatin looks poised to make another strong run again this year.
'They definitely want to do it again,' first-year Tualatin coach Rossano Rocha said. 'Not too many teams get that taste of a state championship. I think our girls want that again. It was a special feat to win it last year. It was an elusive goal.'
But, as the defending state champs, the Wolves will have the bulls-eye on their backs this year. They say that's OK.
'We know that every will be after us,' said Tualatin senior Rachelle Kliewer, who was the Pacific-9 Conference Player of the Year and a first-team All-State selection last year. 'We'll have to keep working hard.'
'We have something to prove again this year,' senior midfielder Jaimie Martini said. 'We're working hard.'
Tualatin, going into the season, looks to have plenty of talent all over the field. And, according to Rocha, the Wolves have something else going for them.
'We've got good senior leadership,' he said. 'It's a great group with Rachelle Kliewer, Lindsey Wilcox, Molly Gehrs, Lindsay Parlee, Niki Paulson and Jaimie Martini. I told them this is their team.'
Parlee, a first-team all-league and second-team all-state pick a year ago, anchors the Timberwolf defense from her goalie position.
'It's nice to have her back there,' Rocha said. 'She's our boss in the back.'
The Wolves have a strong group of returnees on defense in sophomore Annah Kennedy, sophomore Shelby Hawkinson, sophomore Stephanie Clark, sophomore Lauren Butz as well as Ashley Tainer, who is new to the varsity. Gehrs will also see time at goalie.
Martini, a first-team all-league and third-team all-state selection a year ago, will be a key player in the midfield.
Tualatin has other key returnees in the midfield, including Paulson, who had the game-winning goal in the penalty kick shootout in the Wolves' state-title match win over South Eugene. Also returning in the midfield are Wilcox, and juniors Kaileigh Cushing and Ally Schaeffer.
Among the newcomers that will see action in the midfield are freshmen Jensen Skinner and Rosie Mathews and sophomore Chelsea Clark.
Up front, Tualatin will have a potent combination in Kliewer and sophomore Courtney Verloo. Last year Verloo was the Wolves' top goal scorer last year with 25 goals on the season, when she was a first-team all-league and second-team all-state pick.
Sophomore Monica Gomez, up from the junior varsity team, will also see some action up front.
'We have quite a bit of talent,' Rocha said. 'We've got a lot of young talent.'
Talent, determination and cohesiveness - the Wolves say they have them all.
'We're all working as a team,' Kliewer said.
'We're all making sure that everyone keeps working hard,' Parlee added.
'We want to have a big senior year,' Martini said.
The Wolves start what they hope is a big season on Tuesday when they play at South Eugene in a rematch of last year' title tilt.
'I can't wait until Sept. 5,' Rocha said with a smile.
Tualatin also plays Southridge, Jesuit and Sunset in non-league play.
'That will make us that much better,' Martini said.
In Pacific Conference league play this year, each team will play each other twice.
'We get to play Tigard twice,' Rossano said. 'That will be fun. They're always tough. McMinnville and Canby will be tough, too.'