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New coach leads talented girls soccer team


Kelli Cronkrite takes over deep and balanced squad

by: VERN UYETAKE - Juliana Guthner figures to be a big factor for the West Linn girls soccer team's offense this year, starting at forward as a sophomore. The Lions topped Wilsonville 1-0 in their opener. The West Linn girls soccer team is under new leadership this year and is looking to make some noise in what should be one of the most competitive leagues in the state once again.

Kelli Cronkrite takes over the program after two years at Tualatin High School. She played high school soccer at Corvallis and played collegiately at the University of Portland before taking advantage of an opportunity to play overseas in Germany.

Cronkrite has also been a coach with the Lake Oswego Soccer Club for three years.

While the Lions lost nine seniors last year and some key firepower on offense, Cronkrite thinks that the team should by no means take a step back.

“We shouldn't miss a beat. If I was just walking into the program without knowing anything, I never would have guessed that they lost nine seniors. There's plenty of talent and leadership on and off the field,” Cronkrite said.

The Lions possess plenty of speed this year and have multiple players who can fill in at different positions.

“I think we're really deep. Pretty much everyone could play two or three positions, it's just a matter of trying to figure out who fits in and where. It's tough for a coach, but I think it's a good thing,” Cronkrite said.

Up front, Katie Moller and Juliana Guthner will be targeted on offense and both players can also play in the midfield.

The Lions are loaded with options in the midfield. Senior captain Madi Mills figures to be an anchor at the spot and Courtney Landis will play a key role as well.

Defensively, West Linn is a bit inexperienced but has plenty of options there as well. Racheal Dawson and Kaitlin Wattles have both looked strong on the back line early in the year and Cronkrite may move a midfield back at some point as well.

To start the season, Kylie Havemann and Sheila Danies will split time at goalie and Dani Moscow figures to join the mix when she recovers from a broken wrist.

“We've really been working hard on defending both individually and as a team and trying to communicate better,” Cronkrite said.

Cronkrite said the team's depth and leadership are two of its best traits, and the girls are looking forward to seeing the competition this year.

The Three Rivers League figures to be very tough once again this year as two teams, Lakeridge and Clackamas, were in the semifinals last fall.

“We've talked about goals, which are to stay positive and enjoy the season, but we've also talked about league championships and state championships and whether or not that's something we think we can achieve,” Cronkrite said.