Girls soccer: The Hawks have a strong group of players back from last year's league title team
TUALATIN - Last year was a championship season for the Hori-zon Christian High School girls soccer team.
The Hawks graduated eight players from last year's squad that claimed the Special District 2 crown with a 4-1 record while going 6-6-3 on the season, which saw the team earn a Class 4A/3A/2A/1A state playoff bid.
But Horizon Christian is looking for big things again this year.
'This season looks to be oppor-tunistic,' Horizon Christian coach Cory Hand said. 'We have nine seniors this season and graduated eight last season. The seniors we have this year have had many great experiences in the past couple season to add to the team's new players.'
Among the returnees for the Hawks is senior midfielder Lizzie Ng, who earned Special District 2 Player of the Year honors last year. Ng, who has been a team captain since her freshman season, also is a three-time first-team all-league selection.
'More so, Lizzie adds more to the team as a leader on and off the field than she does as a soccer player,' Hand said. 'Lizzie brings a unique and refreshing perspective to leadership by spending her time pouring into her teammates to take her captain position and to become impacts players of their own.'
Senior midfielder Maggie Bach-huber, a second-team all-league pick last year, returns for her fourth year as a varsity starter
'She has stepped up this year and has been voted by her team-mates as a captain,' Hand said. 'Maggie brings creativity and strong scoring opportunities to the team. Look to her to create or to be a part of many of our goals and scoring chances.'
Junior defender Junoet Perkins, a first-team all-league pick last year, is back for her third year as a var-sity starter.
'Junoet is the most crafty on the team offensively and defensively,' Hand said. 'She makes difficult situations look easy. She has an incredible ability to find and com-plete passes the most never knew existed. Defensively, her ability to read and anticipate plays makes her dangerous, and her speed doesn't allow anybody to get past.'
The Hawks have another key re-turnee on defense in senior Maddie Clark, who was a second-team all-league pick last year.
'Maddie locks down the teams defense with her composure and consistency,' Hand said. 'Her presence alone in the back line brings a sense of calmness and confidence.'
Senior forward Jessica Murrell, one of the team's captains, could also serve a key role.
'Jessica looks to add leadership on the field,' Hand said. 'She sets an example and standard in prac-tices that increases the entire teams level and ability. Her leadership has been and will be critical piece in the way the team will perform this season. I'm really excited for her new role.'
Other returnees for Horizon Christian include junior goalkeeper Liz Caron, senior midfielder Rachel Cotner, senior defender Victoria Jones, senior forward Anna Demp-ster and junior defender Sasha Iliyn.
Among the newcomers to the team are freshmen defender Ashlyn McManus, senior defender Jessica Nelson, freshman midfielder Haley Rott, freshman midfielder Lael Bridge, senior forward/defender Jessica Thoens and freshman mid-fielder Holly Cesario.
'Our strength lies in our team's unity and relationship with each other,' Hand said. 'This team is extremely unique in it's ability to develop such strong relationships with each other that transcend the soccer field and have transcended each year. The girls call this team their 'family.' They believe that their ability to develop such strong relationships comes from their team's focus on their relationships with God. It's in their chemistry and unity that they are able to per-form beyond their normal limits.'
Hand sees some tough competi-tion ahead for Horizon Christian this season as the Hawks look to defend their league crown.
'Last year we were the league champions in a very tight league with a lot of tough competition,' he said. 'This year, after graduating eight seniors, and the rest of league's teams only graduating a few seniors each, we are expecting a much more difficult battle in league. Corbett and Portland Ad-ventist will return to be major con-tenders for the league title with Umatilla able to provide an upset. Riverside and De La Salle look to be improved as well.'
Horizon Christian, which fell to Oregon Episcopal School and Riverdale in non-league matches to start the season, will next be in action today (Thursday) when it hosts North Marion in a non-league contest set to start at 4 p.m. at Hori-zon Christian High School.