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A summer filled with kicks

SOCCER - Summer league allows players to stay in shape, hone skills
by: David Ball Sandy’s Makena Schroder goes over a Newberg midfielder for a header during last week’s summer-league game at Gresham High School.

The Sandy girls soccer team finished its 2010 season on a high note, winning five of its last six matches to reach the 5A state playoffs. After six months away from the field, the team has gathered this summer to build momentum toward another successful season.

The Pioneers varsity and junior varsity teams have been competing in a metro-area summer league with games each Tuesday morning. While official scores aren't kept, it does allow players to build some chemistry with a lineup that changes often depending on summer vacation plans and work schedules.

'We just play with who we have each week,' Sandy senior Makena Schroder said. 'It gives us a chance to come together and build our team for the fall.'

The Pioneers picked up an unofficial win last week over Newberg, getting the decisive goal early in the second half when Meghan Luebbert took a crossing pass in the box and beat the keeper with a shot into the side of the net.

Sandy goalie Victoria Fulton maintained the shutout with a challenging save five minutes into the second half, coming off the line to make a deflection about 10 yards out before allowing a teammate to sweep through and boot the ball out of danger.

The chance to make plays is especially rewarding for a handful of young players new to the squad, but the biggest benefit comes in staying fit to play throughout the summer break.

'A lot of people come into tryouts still needing to get in shape, but this allows us to start touching the ball again after having six months off,' Kiki Kruse said.

The season runs through mid-August, leading players up to the start of preseason camps.