The Kingsmen expect to be very competitive once they get their injured forwards back

It’s a rebuilding year for Rex Putnam girls soccer.

The Kingsmen graduated 11 seniors from last year’s team that lost to state finalist Sherwood in the quarterfinals. And Putnam has a very young team. They have 34 girls playing soccer this fall and 16 of them are freshmen. Eight freshmen and four sophomores are on this year’s varsity roster.

Injuries have made things even tougher for the Kingsmen in preseason. Junior forwards Makenzie Maier and Sydney Nichols and freshman forward Taylor Stevens have all been out with injuries.

Maier has been an offensive leader for the Kingsmen the past three seasons. She sat out much of last season with a concussion and elbow injury; this fall she’s still trying to recuperate from surgery following a spring club soccer knee injury. Putnam first-year coach Alex Ponce says he hopes to get Maier back by the middle of the league season.

Ponce says Stevens would be starting, except for a hip-flexer injury; Gibbons last week suffered a concussion in a car accident, and it is unknown when she will get cleared to return.

The Kingsmen also got bad news last spring, when first-team all-league defender Rachel Baker was injured during club soccer. She had surgery on a knee and she’ll miss this season.

With all of the injuries, Ponce says he’s been concentrating on defense, hoping to develop a strong all-around game once his top offensive players return.

“The defense has been getting better and better in every game, allowing fewer goals,” Ponce said. “We lost our opener with Hood River 4-0; we lost to West Linn 3-1; then we lost 2-1 to Hillsboro, we tied Wilson 1-1, and in our last game we tied Glencoe 0-0....

“We can’t be displeased with our defense. We’ve been getting shots on offense, and we’ll be getting goals once our three injured forwards return.”

Glencoe was 3-0-0 when they played Putnam and the Crimson Tide is expected to be one of the top teams in Class 6A this fall.

Ponce says he expects his Kingsmen to be competitive in the Northwest Oregon Conference despite the injuries and the loss of much of last year’s team to graduation.

“I’ve heard that Sherwood and Wilsonville, like us, lost a lot of players to graduation,” he said. “We’re young, but we’re not without talent.”

It doesn’t hurt that the Kingsmen return one of the top goalkeepers in the state in senior Bella Geist. They also return senior Madi Kading, a third-year starter on defense. She’s playing sweeper this year. Defender Lindsey Shaw also returns with varsity experience.

Starters in last week’s game with state power Glencoe were: Geist in-goal; Kading, Shaw, sophomore Sydney Nichols and freshman Megan Spaulding on defense; junior Taren Rock, sophomore Tiana Swenson and freshmen Abigail Herbert and Maggie Batz in the midfield; and freshmen Lauren Rock and Maleah Maier at forward.

Putnam has an away game with McMinnville this afternoon in the Kingsmen’s final tuneup for NWOC play. They host Sherwood a week from Thursday in their conference opener.

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