Edmonds-Woodway will try to defend its first state title in girls soccer with six returning starters and plenty of new faces in the lineup this fall.
The Warriors are 1-1 in two non-conference games played so far: a 3-0 loss to Mercer Island Tuesday and a 1-0 win over Bellevue Thursday.
The Warriors, who beat Southridge 2-1 for the 3A title last November, and went 19-3-1, after a 3-3 start, will be without one of the top players in the state, senior Madison Schultz, and eight other varsity players who graduated this past year.
Schultz scored 32 goals last year to lead the team as junior, her second year of high school soccer. Four of those goals came in the final two games, including a hat trick in the semifinals against then top ranked Bellevue.
Schultz is graduating early before heading to the University of North Carolina to train and play for its storied women’s soccer program.
“It’s a little bittersweet,” said Bill LeCompte, who is in his 17th year as head coach of the E-W girls and 21st with the program. “I encouraged her when she was 5 or 6 to get into select soccer. It’s been neat to see her grow and accomplish some pretty amazing things. It’s kind of sweet in that regard, it’s a little bitter that she’s not with us this fall.”
The Warriors face a tough schedule, especially with the depth and talent found in the Wesco 3A/2A South, and District 1.
“Ton of new faces…we’re sorting things out,” LeCompte said. “We’ve had a couple girls in the system a couple years and they’ve continued to grow and are stepping into some positions.”
Sophomore Hannah Hicks moves into the starting goalkeeper role, replacing standout Kiera Towell, who graduated. It’s a role Hicks is ready for, LeCompte said.
“She’s gained confidence in herself at this level,” he said.
The returning starters include senior Gabby Clark, who was third on the team in goals last year; senior Ashleigh Fonsen and junior Kia Mackey who anchor the defensive backfield; sophomore Alison Monroe, a center midfielder, who started as a freshman; junior outside midfielder Ellie Shull; and outside midfielder, Savannah Norton.
Two freshman newcomers, Michaela Danyo, a forward/outside midfielder, and Chiara Serafini, a center midfielder/forward, expect to make an impact right away. Danyo and Serafini play for the Everett-based Washington Rush Premier club team, which won a national title this year, Le Compte said.
LeCompte also said he expects to use some platoons this season.
“Some of them need to adjust to the speed of play and physicality of the varsity level,” he said. “I feel pretty comfortable believing in my players that they’ll be where they need to be when things start to count. We’ll be moving in the right direction.”
Despite winning a state 3A title, the Warriors finished second in the league last year behind Shorecrest, the runner-up in the state 2A tournament. The Scots only graduated three players, and are “sitting in a great spot to repeat as conference champs,” said LeCompte, who added that his team would love to knock them off.
Shorewood is another team that is looking to contend.
“I think the conference as a whole has a lot of parity in it,” he said. “Every night we have to go out and compete because on any given night you can lose.”
Before last year’s title run, Edmonds-Woodway had never won a state playoff game.
“Now the challenge is to go out there and prove we can do this on a yearly basis,” LeCompte said.
— By Tony Dondero