A veteran lineup should spell success for Putnam girls soccer

by: JAIME VALDEZ - Putnam offensive standout Makenzie Maier is tripped up during a 2011 preseason game with Crescent Valley. After sitting the 2012 preseason with a concussion, Maier is expected to be back in action for this weeks Northwest Oregon Conference opener with Sherwood.The girls on Rex Putnam High School’s soccer team have high expectations for the 2012 season, and with good reason. They graduated only two players from last year’s team that advanced to the Class 5A state quarterfinals.

“We have a ton of seniors and I feel we can go far,” said Putnam team captain Mariah Maier. “Last year we made the quarterfinals, and I heard we were the first [girls soccer team] from our school ever to make the quarterfinals. This year we really hope to make it to the finals, and win.....

“We’ve got a great goalie, Annabella Geist. She played on a national team and she saves our butt when we need her to. But our whole team is strong. We don’t really have a weakness.”

There are no fewer than eleven seniors on this year’s Rex Putnam varsity roster, and the Kingsmen return five players who garnered Northwest Conference all-star recognition last fall.

The top returnees are seniors Maddie Makinster, Shayla Laurendeau and Alea Leibner, junior Annabella Geist, and sophomore Makenzie Maier.

Makinster and Geist were first-team all-conference selections last year, Makinster on defense and Geist at goalie. Makenzie Maier made second-team all-conference as a forward and she led the soccer team in scoring as a freshman. Geist is the PAT kicker on Putnam’s football team.

Laurendeau and Leibner received honorable mention in the league all-star balloting for their play on defense last season.

Rounding out this year’s varsity roster are: seniors Emily Wilson, Fernanda Manzano, Kaylee CdeBaca, Brianna Barnes, Fatima Herrera, Chelsea Steelman, Yecenia Arrezola and Mariah Maier; sophomores Lindsey Shaw and Madi Kading; and freshman Rachel Baker.

The Kingsmen have more than held their own in preseason, earning wins over Hood River (3-1), Wilson (2-0), Class 6A Glencoe (2-1) and Class 6A Lincoln (2-1), while giving the Class 6A Tigard Tigers all they could handle in a 2-1 loss, and battling to a scoreless tie with Hermiston.

Tigard (4-0-1) was ranked the No. 3 team in Class 6A when the Tigers played the Kingsmen in a Sept. 18 game at Tigard; the Kingsmen handed Lincoln its first loss of the season in last Thursday’s game at Lincoln.

The Kingsmen led the Cardinals all the way, with Makinster scoring unassisted 10 minutes into the game, and Barnes scoring off an assist from Mariah Maier 10 minutes before the half. Lincoln scored with 15 minutes to play and the Cardinals pressed hard down the stretch.

“Our defense stepped it up a lot,” Mariah Maier said, as she lauded Arrezola, Makinster, Kading, Leibner, Laurendeau and Baker for their inspired play at the defensive end.

Putnam’s early season success has come without contributions from Makenzie Maier, who sat out the Kingsmen’s first six games with a concussion that she suffered during the summer.

“We hope she’ll get cleared for [this week’s NWOC opener with] Sherwood,” Mariah Maier said of her younger sister Makenzie. “It’s going to be big having her back, although I don’t know what kind of shape she’s going to be in. She’s been running, but playing in a game’s a lot different from running. She misses playing a lot, and we miss her.”

Still, it will be no cakewalk for the Kingsmen in the Northwest Oregon Conference this fall, even if last year’s top scorer returns to the pitch.

Sherwood (5-0-2), Putnam (4-1-1), Sandy (2-2-1) and Liberty (4-2-1) were all ranked in the top 10 in the state heading into this Thursday’s Northwest Conference openers. Sherwood (4-0-1) and Wilsonville (1-2-3) played for the Class 5A state title last year and both teams return a lot of players.

“We know we’re in a tough league, with teams like Sherwood and Wilsonville,” Mariah Maier said. “So it won’t be easy. But we’ve worked so hard for it seems like forever. The seniors have all played together since kindergarten or first grade. [Winning state] would be a great way to end our soccer career together.”

Ranked fifth in the state, the Kingsmen will find out how they stack up with the best in the NWOC this Thursday, when they play second-ranked Sherwood, at Sherwood.

The Bowmen are led by NWOC Co-Players of the Year Jessica Imbrie (senior forward) and Meghan Schoen (senior midfielder), along with returning first-team all-conference players Mikayla Howes (senior midfielder) and Annie Govig (senior defender).

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