It’s a new season, and the defending 4A SPSL champion Puyallup High girls soccer team is picking up right where last year’s team left off.
Even after graduating so much talent the last few years — talent that led the Vikings to league titles and playoff appearances — nothing has changed for Puyallup, and that’s a good thing for the Vikings in their attempt to claim another league title.
“We have a lot of new players, but we’re using a lot of same techniques. It’s mainly just teaching them what we’ve been doing all these years,” Cammie Wolter said.
Teaching is the key word, as very few teams match the program’s ability to bring players up from junior varsity or incorporate freshman without overwhelming them. And fewer teams still don’t match coach Matt White’s ability to have the girls ready when it’s their time to take over a spot on the pitch.
Each year, we work hard to train the next group as our goal. It’s our goal to train people up. If we know we have two wing-backs graduating, we will have to train two new kids to take over their spots next year.
Puyallup coach Matt White
“Each year, we work hard to train the next group as our goal. It’s our goal to train people up,” White said. “If we know we have two wing-backs graduating, we will have to train two new kids to take over their spots next year.”
It’s about always being prepared for the inevitable.
After graduating half of its starters from last season, Puyallup doesn’t look to have lost a step.
Entering the week, Puyallup (2-0-1) has been one of the hottest teams in the new-look SPSL, where the Vikings outscored their opponents 8-1 over a three-game span. So far, the only time the Vikings failed to find the back of the net was in a scoreless draw with last year’s co-league champion, Curtis, to open the season.
“We had a couple of chances to score that game,” White said.
It’s another week of what’s expected from Vikings soccer, and for Puyallup that’s going to be a great thing.
With so many new faces added to the team this year, the teaching of this year’s squad started about a year ago.
During the 2015 season, Puyallup was going to lose its only forward, Saige Lyons (Eastern Washington), by the end of the season, so White began preparing his team with a contingency plan: Katelyn Wood.
The process was long and arduous in training up Wood, but by the end of the season, Puyallup had turned Wood into its new forward.
(Coach Matt) White does a really good job in forming our formation for what players we have. One of our goals is team first, and the girls do a great job in adopting that attitude for the team.
co-captain Grace Wood
“White does a really good job in forming our formation for what players we have,” co-captain Grace Wood said. “One of our goals is team first, and the girls do a great job in adopting that attitude for the team.”
Over the final three regular season games last year, Katelyn Wood was responsible for scoring three goals and assisting on two others, playing some kind of role in half of the Vikings’ last 10 goals of the season.
“So we graduate Saige Lyons,” White said. “Then you go alright, Katelyn Wood. So we train Katelyn all last year, and by then end of the season, she was our leading scorer game by game.”
If you play one position for a club team, White added, that doesn’t mean you’ll play that position for the Puyallup High soccer team. It’s about maintaining versatility while deploying the top 11 for every minute of this new season.
It’s about maximizing the ability and talent of each individual to make the whole stronger.
“Nothing’s really different,” Hallie Johnson said. “Coach White pretty much tries to do the same thing every year. We’ve changed the formation a little bit, but that’s just to adjust to what we’ve lost.”
What Puyallup lost is a lot of talent. Yet it’s the talent the program is bringing in that has the team and school excited about the Vikings chances in the new-look SPSL.