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Girls soccer: Wilsonville out to prove it's 'no less talented' despite turnover

Wildcats notch first win of season against Cleveland


by: JEFF GOODMAN - Senior goalkeeper Bess Kitzmiller corrals the ball during the Wilsonville girls soccer team's 1-0 win over Portland-Cleveland on the road Sept. 10.PORTLAND — Bess Kitzmiller knows what some people will think about a Wilsonville girls soccer program that graduated seven seniors, including three college players. And she doesn’t mind at all.

After the Wildcats defeated Cleveland 1-0 on the road Sept. 10, the senior goalkeeper compared this season to 2011.

“It’s kind of the same as my sophomore year,” she said. “We lost nine seniors (from the 2010 roster), and everyone was saying, ‘Oh, you guys aren’t gonna be as great.’”

Wilsonville defied expectations that year, of course, engineering one of its best seasons in school history by reaching the state finals. And the Wildcats don’t intend on lowering their bar of success as they embark on their 2013 campaign.

Yes, they’re without three first-team all-league honorees from last year’s roster. But they’re determined not to be defined by the voids left by forward Emily Hooper (Sacramento State), midfielder Michelle Teramura (Colorado School of Mines), defender Elyse Laurin (Whitman) and their four other graduated players.

“The senior class we lost can’t be replaced in a lot of ways, but they don’t need to be,” coach Becca Shook said. “The loss of the seniors has allowed younger girls to step up and show their talent and personality. We are a different team with different strengths and weaknesses, but no less talented.”

Signs of that talent were on display during Wilsonville’s win at Cleveland Community Field.

It was the first victory of the season for the Wildcats (1-1), who fell 1-0 to West Linn in their opener a week earlier.

It was their second triumph against Cleveland under Shook, the first coming in a 2-0 decision in the second round of the 2011 state playoffs.

And it was the first shutout win of the season for a team that prides itself on defense. Wilsonville gave up just 15 goals in 15 games last year, shutting out seven opponents and giving up just four goals combined in its seven Northwest Oregon Conference games.

In their season-opening loss, the Wildcats were caught off guard by West Linn’s quick-strike offense. And they suffered the consequences on the only scoring play of the game.

“They had a through ball down the line, sent the ball across and had a really fast forward coming in,” Kitzmiller said. “They had some fast forwards up top, which killed us. We weren’t expecting them. It definitely could’ve been more than 1-0.”

Wilsonville flipped the script against Cleveland (1-1), allowing just one shot on goal the entire first half and ceding just one corner kick the entire match.

Along with returning varsity players Makaela Press, Alex Monello and Alexis Glavey, newcomers Nicole Laschober, Peyton Johnson and Kristine Johnson are figuring out how to keep opposing offenses at bay.

“They’ve filled the spots really well,” Kitzmiller said. “We thought it would be difficult losing four senior defenders, but they’ve stepped up really well in the midfield, they’re winning balls in the air and staying together as a unit.”

Anchoring the defense is Kitzmiller, who is vying for 10 shutouts in the final season of her prep career. She is one of three returning all-league honorees for Wilsonville, whose roster also features junior forwards Kendall Tate and Ali Bourque.

Kitzmiller and co-captain Savannah Stehman are the team’s only two seniors, meaning the Wildcats will seek to defend their league title and make another postseason run with a roster that features about 10 freshmen and sophomores.

“I think we have a good chance (of repeating as NWOC champions) this year,” Shook said. “But all the teams in our league are contenders. I believe we have the toughest league in 5A. With the addition of some great coaches over the last couple of years, all the teams have been improving.”

Added junior midfielder Audrey Chames: “We just want to prove to our school that we can (be successful) after losing so many important players.”

Chames did her part against Cleveland. On a broken play in the 34th minute, the standout golfer guided a grounder past senior goalkeeper Anna West and into the net for the only point of the match.

Her first-half goal followed several scoring chances for Wilsonville. In the 6th minute, Stehman took a pass from Tate and fired a shot that West corralled. In the 23rd, West successfully defended a high-arcing ball that Bourque launched from about 30 yards away.

About 10 minutes later, Chames capitalized on an opening.

“It was a big jumble,” she said. “I was just in the right place at the right time, and I placed it. It was kind of like a little chip.”

Cleveland had more offensive success in the second half, but it still couldn’t convert against the Wildcats’ back line.

Wilsonville’s players hope it was a sign of things to come.

“It felt good to get the first win of the season,” Kitzmiller said. “It wasn’t perfect, and we have plenty to work on, but we came out and played well.”

Added Chames: “I’m excited to see where it goes.”

***

AT A GLANCE

Wilsonville 1, Cleveland 0

Sept. 10 at Cleveland Community Field (Portland)

Scoring: Audrey Chames (34th minute).

Shots: Wilsonville 7, Cleveland 7.

Corner kicks: Wilsonville 3, Cleveland 1.



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